I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and Hanukkah!
I saw a funny quote on a hand-stitched pillow in the window of store the other day that said: “It’s not a family gathering until someone has a meltdown”!
A little humor certainly never hurt any body; in fact, the holidays are a great time to turn the humor dial all the way up! Some people are more prone to stress than others and if you are already running low on steam, your ability to cope during the holidays can be even more of a challenge. Holiday stress is bound to happen to some degree; between hectic travel, parties, family gatherings and (seemingly) endless spending–there’s plenty to overwhelm even the most festive person. While the holidays can mean festive lights, fun, food and family to many, it can also trigger feelings of loneliness, exacerbate already challenged relationships or enhance the grief of loved ones who have passed.
Being in the presence of family, especially multi-generationally, can really stir up our crap–and yes we all have some baggage!
Family members are the best at reminding us of our shortcomings and conflicts. Add in the expectation that the holidays should wrap us in peace, love and blissful togetherness and you have created the perfect holiday stew of disappointment.
The good news is we don’t have to be victims of our circumstances. Family fiasco? Holiday dinner burned to a crisp? Flights delayed? Is it a nightmare or an adventure? You decide! Stress happens, but how you react to it determines the memories you make.
Here are a few suggestions to ease your way into the holidays and create a realistic, fun and healthy holiday season.
Manage your expectations. Instead of setting up idealistic versions of how the holiday seasonshould go, set realistic goals for yourself and your relationships. If you have suffered a strained relationship for years, don’t expect it to be completely comfortable and easy. Set your intention to be your highest and best self without expecting anyone else to behave in an ideal way.
Create space to restore, exercise and get enough sleep. It’s easy to burn out during the season. Between holiday parties, gift shopping, traveling and entertaining, it’s important to pace yourself and not skimp on sleep or regular workouts. Lack of sleep and anxious feelings and weight gain are the perfect ingredients for a holiday meltdown! Schedule in regular time for down time, exercise and sleep even if you have to cut your workouts a little short; don’t cut them out completely!
Let go. Consider letting go of traditions that no longer serve you and create new ones that are in line with your current pace of life and personal vision. This year was the first year in nine years that we traveled for Thanksgiving. The last time we were grounded in Chicago for hours on the tarmac, benighted and arrived 48 hours late to our destination bedraggled and devoid of holiday cheer. We changed our personal expectations and ideals of Thanksgiving and started our own traditions. Instead of giving into pressure (which we mainly put on ourselves) to travel for every major holiday to be with family, we scaled back and have had relaxed, easy celebrations ever since.
Just say no. You’ve heard me say it before, forget FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)! Just because you have been invited to every holiday open house and want to buy a gift for every person on your list, you don’t have to! People will still like you and they will respect you and enjoy your company more because you will be more relaxed, and present, not simply showing up out of obligation. Remember your presence is present enough.
In loving regards,
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