The holidays this year, what to do with them? Last year we were angry at the lockdowns and trying to make Christmas as normal as possible. This year, it appears that they are affecting us all differently as anxiety is on the rise, exhaustion has set in and the realization that the obligations of family or friends are starting to have an impact. Here are a few tips to help navigate the holidays.
Examine Holiday Traditions: We all have them: the foods, the decorations, whose house to eat at, the order in which gifts are distributed or unwrapped. There is comfort in tradition, and it can be overwhelming. To keep it on the comfort side without having to have it run over into the overwhelming can seem impossible. To help change this, stop yourself and think it through. If you have a significant other, include them in the process. Ask yourself, what is the meaning of the holiday? What makes it important to me? Then plan the activities according to your values and beliefs. That will remove a lot of the pressure because you are not obligated to continue traditions that leave you broke, overwhelmed, and tired.
Stay Present: There is a great pull to be thinking about all the activities of the holidays: the schedule, the next meal, tasks still needing to be done or who you’re going to see next. With all those thoughts swirling in your head it is often difficult to be able to focus on the people around you at that moment. When those moments pass, there can often be regrets over what you missed. To be present requires us to still our mind and refocus on the conversations in front of us. This takes practice and often training. This holiday, take a deep breathe to clear the thoughts, look at your loved ones and join the conversation.
Give Yourself Permission to Say No: Often we forget how things are affecting us and we just keep moving forward. This can lead to accepting invites and tasks without much thought then regretting it later. Take some time to self-reflect. How is the stress of the holidays effecting you? What do you have the mental/emotional reserves to be a part of? Then give yourself permission to say no when you are too drained to do anything else or if you want to save the energy you have for something you are looking forward to.
Chase Joy: There is a deep feeling of contentment/happiness called joy. It is often there waiting to be experienced but our own anxieties and expectations push it out. Look for things around you that bring joy. Experience them. Then be grateful for them. This will help you hold onto your joy and give you something to smile about when you look back at the memories.
These are simple tips to help you survive the holidays. If you are finding yourself struggling, remember you are not alone. We are here to help.