Five Self-Care Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday
My memories of holidays past are pretty good for the most part. I grew up in a large family and that equals a lot of hungry stomachs to fill, so Thanksgiving was a well-orchestrated event. My mother and grandmother effortlessly blended melodies of grating, basting, and mixing with the harmonies of chopping, pouring, and baking to create a feast of delicacies. Everyone helped with cooking, cleaning, and decorating, including the occasional run to the market, to pick up items forgotten. The house was packed with visitors from sun up to sun down and Sinatra, Gaye, Charles, and Green filled the air throughout the day.
However, as I grew older and life became more complicated, I understood that holidays can also be extremely stressful. They’re an annual reminder of loved ones who are no longer with us, exacerbate strained relationships, and reanimate dysfunctional family dynamics. The holidays can be so stressful for some that they sink into a familiar depression and isolate themselves from everyone.
Knowing all of this, I think that self-care should be a primary goal, during this time of the year, and life coaching is an effective tool to help you create your unique self-care plan. So, let’s take a look at five things that you can do to make the holiday season and family gatherings a little bit easier.
Choose Your Battles
Every year in a neighborhood near you, the celebration has turned to chaos. Doors are slammed, voices are raised, someone is crying and the day is ruined. Why do you ask? Because someone decided to poke the bear. One of you decided to start or engage in conversations they KNOW will lead to nothing short of Armageddon. Whether it is politics, religion, homophobia, or racism, we all know just how to light a fire at the dining room table. However, a celebration is neither the place nor time for that. You have over 300 other days to choose from to have those conversations. Although you may feel more comfortable having the conversation within the protection of your tribe, you risk ruining the day for everyone else. I’m not saying forfeit the conversation entirely. Just simply pick another day and enjoy your pie.
Take a Break
The number of people, conversations, and smells can become overwhelming during a holiday celebration and at some point, Grandpa’s stories about the war, the smell of burning sugar, and the “boom boom boom” blaring from your nephew’s room become too much. Well instead of sitting in the middle of everyone grinding your teeth, take a break! Get up and step outside for a bit of fresh air, or go play blocks with the littlest of the crew. I find that a few minutes locked in a bathroom watching YouTube videos, restores my peace, so that I may return to the festivities. Try it, you’ll like it!
Prepare Your Scripts
Please don’t go into the holidays, acting as if you don’t know your family! You’ve been with them all of your life and can profile them with your eyes closed. Having said this, you can also predict the conversations and behavior and are well who and what is going to rub you the wrong way. Please understand that you are not obliged to have these conversations, so be sure to pack your exit scripts for the occasion.
“Is something burning? Let me go check.” (Exit stage Right)
“Is that my car alarm? Let me go check.” (Exit Stage Left)
“Hmm…time for me to take my medicine. Excuse me.” (Smile and quickly walk away)
They help you to respectfully shut a conversation down. By the way…they work for bad first dates too!
More and more people are migrating from where they were raised and find that when they return, they’re quite different from those who stayed courtside. While out there forging a new life, they have adopted different practices and established different beliefs from those they were raised with. Needless to say, you can always return home but nothing and no one stays the same. Thus, we may find ourselves tossing stones in a glass house and casting judgment on those with whom we share DNA. Yet before you reach for another piece of granite, take a swig of humility and remember that you also used to be a player in that script. Plus, it’s never wise to provoke the Keeper of the Photos.
Family is family, right? We don’t get to pick them but we can choose to love them and love them we will. So, focus on good memories, be of service to one another, catch up on the latest goings-on, and let your hair down just a fraction. Stay focused on being a conduit of love, peace, and joy and you will find that this just may be a very different gathering after all.
Wishing you a very Happy Holiday!
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