Holidays are a great time to get together with family and see friends we’ve missed, but don’t forget yourself in the process. Here are 6 ways to enjoy the special moments, avoid the perilous ones, all while keeping your humor and sanity intact.
1. Don’t try to change anyone
Your energy is precious. This is not the time to use it to try to change anyone’s politics or how they choose to walk through life. Some ways to reduce your stress are:
Gentle reminder: you can agree to disagree about how you see the world. That just means that you are distinct and different people with distinct and differing views. And that’s OK.
2. Set your boundaries
If someone wants to talk about a topic that triggers you, you can say, “I am not talking about anything related to that, but I’d love to know more about what’s new with you.”
If they persist in disrespecting your boundary, you might say, “As I told you that topic is not one I’m willing to discuss.” And leave the conversation – this is your right. First and foremost, above any social convention or “nicety,” you are responsible for honoring yourself. Remember, there’s no rule that says you have to talk to people you find offensive. You get to decide.
3. Work with your energy
While we have no control over other people’s energy, we certainly can reset ours. Energy is contagious – when you enter a room filled with loving energy – you automatically feel it: your mind relaxes, and your body can exhale as well. When entering a room, and there’s tension, (spoken or unspoken), you know that immediately too. You might feel your body contracting or getting tense. You might feel hyper-alert and on guard, and not even realize why. One way of dealing with that is to make a point of protecting your energy. Here’s a visualization that can help.
Imagine an energetic bubble around yourself, almost like an egg shape. The bubble is filled with golden light, and you notice an electric blue outer layer to the bubble. Every time some negative energy comes towards you , the electric blue outside of your bubble zaps it, so it can not enter your bubble. The warm gold inside safeguards and supports, no matter what is happening externally.
4. Take Breaks
Build in some time to yourself. This can be to take a walk outside, to journal, to read something inspirational, or to reconnect with yourself in meditation. This can be your morning routine. If/when you need a break during the day, you might volunteer to walk the dog (if there is one) or just get some fresh air and clear your mind.
And when things are humming along, make some time to get into nature together. These are the moments you may remember most.
4. Manage your expectations
If you expect everything to be perfect, you’ll usually be disappointed. When you expect some friction, you won’t be shocked when it comes up. Try, if you can, to see the humor in the family dynamics. People are just being themselves. If you happen to get triggered, explore what there is to learn about/for yourself:
5. Appreciate everyone’s presence
Look for the good in people. Try to connect soul to soul, rather than one stressed-out person to another. We also take it for granted that we have all the time in the world, and that others around the table do too. The truth of the matter is that life happens, and we really don’t know with 100% certainty if a chair may be empty a year from now. The point is: appreciate everyone’s presence, (including your own) with new eyes and an open heart.
So, inspire a fresh take on the Holidays. Anticipate occasional friction; refuse to invest your energy in old dance moves, and call in your best self. When you reserve time to re-energize, and take care of your own needs, it may just spread to those who need it most. And by looking through the eyes of love laced with humor, you may be surprised by how much your view improves.
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