No matter if you look forward to the holidays or dread them, this season can be a source of stress. It can seem like everyone loses their damn minds at this time of year. I personally love the Christmas holiday, but I also find that I can easily get sucked into the holiday chaos. Below are some survival tips to help you get through the season in one piece.
1) Watch your self-talk. If you focus on that aunt who drives you crazy, the sister who brings you down, or so-and-so’s boyfriend’s cousin’s friend who you might run into during the holiday celebration...you’re setting yourself up for stress and misery. Instead, try to identify at least three things you’re looking forward to during those holiday get-togethers. Here’s a previous blog post on positive self-talk.
2) Time-outs. Permit yourself to take a breather if needed. Take a brief walk outside or go to the bathroom to splash some water on your face to give yourself a little space before you get back out there. No shame in the time-out game.
3) Quality vs. quantity. Focus on the conversations you’ll enjoy having, and prioritize them. You don’t have to have long conversations with everyone. Genuinely listen, connect, be present with those who mean the most.
4) Be nice to yourself. Did you eat half of a cheeseball or overdose on the cookies? Beating yourself up about it isn’t going to fix a thing. The holidays once a year, and indulging occasionally is good for you.
5) Give yourself permission to say “no” or “I don’t want to talk about that” if a topic is brought up you don’t want to discuss. You may want to practice this out loud or with someone. Get creative; you don’t have to talk about anything you don’t want to.
6) Pace yourself. Don’t go nuts and take on too much. Set limits on what you want to take on. If you host, delegate. If you attend, bring what you are comfortable bringing. You cannot and do not need to do it all.
7) Loss of a family member or friend is often emphasized around the holidays. Focus on a positive way to keep their memory alive. Personally, I do this by cooking one of my dad’s favorite meals on Christmas night.
8) Celebrating alone? This can be tough or enjoyable, depending on circumstances. Volunteering can be a great way to connect with others and feel good about giving. Cooking a nice meal for yourself, enjoying the solitude, and doing something holiday related can also be good for your soul! Plan some sort of event or activity, and reach out by phone to talk to a friend or family member.
9) Boundaries. Setting boundaries with your friends and family (and more importantly communicating them) can help you remain sane.
10) Breathe. throughout the day, just breathe. Slowly, smoothly, calmly. This can have powerful effects on your mood and anxiety. Practice when you’re not super stressed, and once you get the hang of it you can apply it to more stressful situations. I have a little post on a simple breathing exercise, here.
I hope you have an enjoyable end to 2018, and that you are able to find some moments of peace and relaxation. It is a stressful season but hopefully some of these tips will also allow you to enjoy amongst the holiday crazy.