Using DBT Mindfulness to Make the Most of Thanksgiving

By Jeanette Lorandini

A moody image of a pice of paper on a window sill with the word "Mindfulness" in script. A perfect representation of the Mindfulness DBT skill.

Holiday ads, cards, movies, and other media traditionally promote gratitude and cheer. You may feel forced to conform to the joyful seasonal attitude. But in some cases, feigning cheeriness on the outside may go against what you’re feeling inside. When you’re more mindful, aware, and honest about how you feel and why, however, you’ll healthily progress to the point where you prioritize being true to yourself over trying to pretend. With more mindfulness, you’ll be able to keep yourself balanced and safe as you move into a busy, social time of year.

Learn more about mindfulness and other DBT skills for kids, teens, and adults at Suffolk DBT where licensed clinicians provide DBT therapy in Suffolk County, NY, New York City, and online. The skills learned in DBT sessions empower clients to embrace acceptance and positive change in ways that enhance their mental, emotional, and behavioral health all year long.

Many laud the holiday season for being a joyous time of year. A time of getting together with loved ones, having fun, and expressing gratitude. But it can also be an emotionally demanding time of year. Holiday ads and movies can make many people feel forced to be cheery during the holidays. But it can take a toll on the mind and body to put up this pretense when dealing with loss, grief, substance use, seasonal affective disorder, or other mental, emotional, and behavioral challenges. Likewise, buying or making gifts, decorating homes, or arranging travel plans can be stressful. If you have anxious and negative thoughts and feelings that don’t match the cheerful seasonal ads and content that saturate the media, you may think you won’t be able to enjoy the holidays.

One way to make the most of your holiday is to focus more on how you’re actually feeling instead of getting caught up in how you think you should feel this time of year. Paying closer attention to your mind and body can take effort, consistency, and commitment. It requires a willingness to notice the positive and negative aspects of what’s happening inside and around you. It requires mindfulness.

Learning to Practice Mindfulness

Cultivating mindfulness isn’t something you have to do alone. When you’re ready to acknowledge your reality and eager to heal from it, a licensed professional experienced in providing mental and behavioral health care can guide you. Specifically, clinicians trained in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can help you achieve the positive changes you hope for. Clinicians at Suffolk DBT can help individuals seeking DBT therapy in Suffolk County, NY, use DBT mindfulness to make the most of Thanksgiving. In individual, group, and family sessions, clients learn DBT skills for kids, teens, adults, and families and receive support that empowers them to enhance their well-being and make the most of every day.

Mindfulness is One of Many Great DBT Skills for Kids, Teens, and Adults

Mindfulness refers to being fully present. It’s being fully aware of the sensations you’re experiencing. It’s an awareness of your thoughts and feelings. Being mindful is being aware of your thoughts and feelings and identifying and labeling them without judgment. When you can do so, you’re not overly reactive nor overwhelmed by what happens around you. The holiday season can be so active that, perhaps, you spend much of the time planning. You may be preoccupied with daydreams, trying to prevent or solve problems that arrive, or generally negative thoughts that can drain you. Practicing mindfulness, however, can draw your attention away from this way of thinking. It can equip you to engage with the world.

How Does Mindfulness Work As a Core Principle of DBT?

Developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan, DBT uses dialectical thinking to emphasize acceptance, change, and mindfulness. Acceptance and change are ideas that seemingly contradict one another, but they don’t have to work against each other. Per dialectics, acceptance and change can both exist and be true simultaneously. This notion allows DBT skills for kids, teens, and adults to work in various situations. When implemented in DBT therapy in Suffolk County, NY, licensed clinicians at Suffolk DBT help clients accept their current realities. We give them support where they need it now and validate their current experiences. Simultaneously, clients are encouraged to embrace that they must make changes to achieve their therapy goals and enjoy enhanced well-being in the present and future. Clinicians guide them through the process of making positive changes. Clients can gain healthy control of their minds and bodies by learning to accept and be mindful of the present rather than ruminate on the past. With increased mindfulness, clients can better identify and regulate unwanted emotions. They’ll be able to:

  • Recognize their inner mental workings
  • Identify any unhelpful thinking patterns
  • Acknowledge they don’t have to slip back into unhelpful old behaviors
  • Enhance their capacity to observe warning signals of distress
  • Stop dwelling excessively on things in efforts to ‘fix’ them
  • Focus on the present and stop exploring the past

Ways to Be Mindful During the HolidaysImage of a family carving their turkey on Thanksgiving and looking for ways to be mindful during this holiday season as a boost to their DBT therapy in Suffolk County NY.

The professionals who provide DBT Therapy in Suffolk County, NY, at Suffolk DBT understand that many elements of Thanksgiving may trigger anxiety and distress and require the use of DBT skills for kids, teens, and adults to cope. Such aspects, especially for kids and teens, may include:

  • Spending time away from home and visiting an unfamiliar place
  • Being around more people than usual
  • Meeting new people or being with those you haven’t seen in a long time
  • Being in enclosed spaces or loud spaces
  • Concerns about eating too much or too little

You can manage the stress and emotions associated with such situations and get the most out of Thanksgiving by taking the following actions based on mindfulness:

  1. Check on yourself. In some cases, a session of DBT therapy in Suffolk County, NY at Suffolk DBT may be the first time that day when a person takes a moment to pause. It may be the first time they’ve noticed a headache or chest pains. During your Thanksgiving holiday, try stopping to check how you’re feeling. Pausing amid such activity allows you to reconnect with yourself and acknowledge how you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally.
  2. Observe your environment. Making observations and describing what’s going on in your space are practical mindfulness-based DBT skills for kids, teens, and adults. Once you’ve acknowledged what’s happening internally, notice what’s happening externally. Pay attention to the interactions you have and who you have them with. Take notice of things you love that make you feel comfortable about the people you spend time with. What good experiences have you had with them, and how can you have more of them? How are you verbally and non-verbally communicating with others? What are you saying and doing? What are the people around you saying and doing?
  3. Set boundaries as necessary. When you’re fully aware of what’s happening around you and how it impacts you, you’ll be able to set appropriate boundaries for yourself. At our Suffolk County, NY DBT therapy center, we help clients understand that they don’t have to feel ashamed or guilty about setting boundaries, even with loved ones. Boundaries can help you maximize experiences and interactions that make you feel good and minimize those that don’t. When you’re mindful of what you can and can’t handle, you’ll become more comfortable letting others know. You’ll be more willing and confident to respectfully yet firmly make statements like, “I’m not comfortable having this discussion,” “I’d rather not discuss my appearance or weight,” “Thank you, but I’ve eaten enough,” or “I would like to have time to myself after dinner.”

An image of a son embracing his father with other family members faded in the background. Cultivate Mindfulness in DBT Therapy in Suffolk County, NY

Pausing and taking a more mindful inner and outer look empowers you to be more responsive—to be less reactive and impulsive. Mindfully observing, describing, and participating in your world allows you to make the most of Thanksgiving. It enables you to make healthier, more effective decisions and actions that align with the short-term and long-term goals you set during and after therapy.

Reach out to us at Suffolk DBT when you’re ready to learn mindfulness-based DBT skills for kids, teens, and adults that allow equip you to make positive changes in your life.

With more mindfulness, you’ll be able to look back over your day and review what you did to care for yourself, a child, or another loved one. You’ll be able to see who or what supported you and can be confident in what changes work for you and what doesn’t and have renewed hope all year long.

Suffolk DBT proudly provides quality dialectical behavior therapy, a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, at their offices in Manhattan and Long Island, New York and online. Their experienced NYC therapists specialize in serving teens, children, adults, and college students struggling with depression, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, and self-harm. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills and treatment can help you or your kids to manage emotions and work through life’s challenges.

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