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Four Core Holiday Survival Tips for Couples

Four Core Holiday Survival Tips for Couples 

By: Tricia Kim Walsh, LMFT, PMH-C

The holiday and winter seasons can be exceptional but also incredibly stressful. Look no further to those quick tips you and your partner need to feel connected and thriving in your love. I have compiled a helpful and comprehensive list of intimate ways to feel closer and connected to your partner during the holidays. I welcome your input if you have suggestions and insights.

  • What do the Holidays mean to you? Share what the holidays mean for you this season and how you’d like your partner to be involved in celebrating them (rituals/traditions/locations/with family, friends, children, etc.). The more specific, the better. Speaking generally can sometimes be interpreted by the other partner. 

  • What do you want for the holidays from your partner? If you exchange gifts, and this is an important “love language” for you both (see Gary Chapman’s Love Languages here:, put together a top 3-5 list of items that one another can have access to in advance of the gift-giving exchange. Surprises can be romantic and special but can leave room for error and mistakes. Tis the season to show love by making one another's lives easier.

  • Interfaith/Interracial Relationships for the Holidays- The beauty of the holiday season is there can be many different cultural and spiritual celebrations. Learn from one another how the holidays were celebrated and what allows them to feel they can honor their culture, spirituality, religion, ancestry, etc. Our differences make us beautiful, and it’s essential to discover how to learn about those differences and see how they can be interwoven into your loving relationship and, if you have children, how your children can celebrate both their identities from your family heritages. 

  • How do you handle stress/self-care/time to pause- The holidays and the end of the year can be a time of great stress, grief, and struggle, especially in our personal and professional lives. Whether sharing what self-care looks like for you or seeking your own individual or couples therapy, it’s healthy and courageous to share your struggles. Vulnerability creates closeness, so open your heart and name how you prepare for the holidays and what kind of support you need from your loved ones, especially your partner.

Five Foundational Holiday Self-Care Tips for Individuals

I have compiled a comprehensive list of ways to increase self-confidence and self-compassion during the holiday season. I will update this based on our season and month and what is currently happening in our country and world. I welcome your input if you have suggestions and insights.

  1. Daily self-care practice: Plan a daily self-care routine for yourself as you head into the holidays. It can be a meditation, a walk, exercise, a call with a friend to check in or weekly therapy sessions with your therapist. 

  2. Self-Affirmations: Begin and end your day with a Self-Affirmation:

  3. 3 Healthy Rs: Replenish, Rest, Repeat: Give yourself good rest (sleep), hydration (it’s the cold season for us in the States plus travel and Covid is still here, let’s not forget), good food, good company and do it every day whenever possible.  Doing all the good for your body gives you good mental health.  

  4. Forgiveness: Things are often not going our way, no matter how hard we try. When it doesn’t happen, remember to have self-forgiveness and self-forgiveness. As my Mom used to say, “Tomorrow is always a brand new day.” The holidays can be difficult for a multitude of reasons. Give yourself the grace to cry, to get angry, not to take it out on yourself or others but to name it, tame it, and claim it by forgiving how easy it is to rip ourselves apart rather than to give ourselves the kindness we all truly deserve.

  5. Fun: Yes- I’ve said it. We tend to focus on the gift-giving, the rushes of getting through the deadlines and completing the to-do lists, but what about the joys of what the end of the year is truly to be centered around—love, appreciation, gratitude, and fun?  Fun can be with family, friends, pets, children, colleagues, OR it can be just for YOU. Put together a list of 1 FUN thing you can do daily for yourself or others.  If it’s hard to have fun, then replace fun with being PRESENT and what allows you to bring you peace, love, and calmness.  Ultimately, let this be a time to reflect and appreciate all your strengths, talents, and skills that you’ve gained this year and acknowledge yourself for what you bring to the lives of those who know and love you.

Tips from the Heart for Teens and their Parents/Families/Siblings/Friends

By: Tricia Kim Walsh, LMFT, PMH-C

I have compiled a comprehensive list of ways to help you feel more connected and close with your tween/teen. I will update this based on the season and month we are in and what is currently happening in our country and world. I welcome your input if you have suggestions and insights.

  • Ask open-ended questions when your tween/teen returns back from school or their practice. Remember that they want to share with you, but being a teen is hard, and they may need space to decide what they are ready to share.

  • Ask them directly how you can support them at the start of the school year. They will let you know.

  • Listen, do not criticize, judge or blame.  If your teen wants guidance, they will let you know. Teens will amaze and astound you. They know the answers within if you give them the space.  They will show you. 

  • Show and share your sincere praise, validation, empathy, and reflection. 

  • When you feel proud of them, let them know that.  

  • Let them be reminded of your love, verbally and physically (i.e., hug, high five, a special handshake,  fist bump, etc.), if they give consent. 

  • Speak with the other teen’s parents for co-parenting opportunities to see how you can work together to encourage your teen this school year.

Thriving Your Love During the Holidays with Your Teens:

By: Tricia Kim Walsh, LMFT, PMH-C

  • Stick to household routines. Observe regular mealtimes and bedtimes whenever possible. Ease back into the school routine with some light studying the week before school starts.

  • Give teens some control over their schedule. Work out time for teens to celebrate with friends and discuss what festivities they can opt out of.

  • Make room for downtime and exercise. Include quiet activities such as a movie night. Encourage teens to exercise every day — anything from ice skating to walking.

  • Get teens involved. Assign responsibilities for holiday parties; ask them to help with shopping, decorating, or cooking. Encourage them to volunteer for a good cause, such as a food bank or a toy drive.

  • Manage gift expectations. Discuss a realistic gift list for your teen. Set a budget for their gifts for friends and family, and encourage them to make some of their presents.

  • Limit social media and screen time. Too much time on social media or with video games can cause sensory overload, and encourage temper flareups. Social media can set kids up for unrealistic comparisons with others’ holiday experiences.

  • Take care of yourself. If you’re overtaxed as a parent, your kids will sense it. Make time for self-care and show holiday spirit with balanced expectations and activity levels.

TIPS for TEENS as you return to school :

By: Tricia Kim Walsh, LMFT, PMH-C

I have created a Teen Bill of Rights that can help you to feel empowered as you return to school, or you may even be starting a new school, entering a new grade level, adjusting to change in your life as well as the changes that are part of being an adolescent.  If you see anything you disagree with or would like to add, please email or send a message to @BayAreaCouplesTherapist on Instagram. Thanks so much!

  • You have the right to be called the name and pronouns you identify with. 

  • You have the right to be seen and identified by the many cultural and/or sexual orientations you hold.

  • You have the right to set your boundaries and have them understood. 

  • You have the right to select the activities/sports that you like to participate in. 

  • You have the right to say no and have boundaries that respect your body and what is said about your body.

  • You have the right to choose your friends and circle of friends with whom you spend time.

  • You also have the right to no longer be with friends who may be mistreating and harming you, etc., others.

  • You have the right to seek protection and advocate for others being protected if you see on-campus bullying. 

  • You have the right to be reminded daily that you are loved, worthy, and always deserving of the highest respect.

  • You have the right to feel safe on campus and be spoken with by everyone there with respect.

  • You have the right to initiate your teen therapy as the right to work with someone new and transfer to a new therapist who will be a “better fit” for you.

  • You have the right to question, learn, follow your dreams, and dream big!

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