Anxiety and Depression: Your Cope Ahead Plan for the Holidays

Anxiety and Depression: Your Cope Ahead Plan for the Holidays

Woman bound up by a string of Christmas lights, unable to moveWhat do you get when you struggle with anxiety and/or depression and combine lots of family time, a little too much entertaining and a dozen Christmas cookies? The opportunity to make a Christmas Cope Ahead plan to help you take control of your holiday experience!

This is the time of year when I talk with my patients about making a “Cope Ahead” plan for the holidays.

A Cope Ahead plan is a coping skill you can use BEFORE you are about to go into a situation that has caused you to have a really intense unwanted emotion in the past.

Let’s say you struggle with symptoms of social anxiety, and your family holiday experience includes about 75 of your closest relatives. A Cope Ahead plan will help you envision your method for coping instead of spending the whole season dreading and wishing to avoid these holiday gatherings.

The beauty of a Cope Ahead plan is that it allows you to…

  • Name the emotion most likely to cause you a problem before it gives you problems.
  • Man rehearsing on stage in front of an empty theaterHelps you rehearse what your effective coping will look like AHEAD of any stressful encounters.
  • Create new and effective ways to manage difficult emotions while you are still in a calm and wise frame of mind.

By creating and practicing more effective thinking habits to prepare for for the worst case scenarios ahead of time, you will be in a better position to know how to cope with whatever those holiday gatherings have in store!


Kym Hansen-Duell, LMSW, ACSW is a licensed social worker at the Pine Rest Traverse City Clinic. Kym has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Central Michigan University and a Master of Social Work from Grand Valley State University. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and the Academy of Certified Social Workers. Kym is available to speak at community events on topics such as ADHD, depression, parenting, family issues and workplace stress.

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