Tis the holiday season for celebrating all those things that we love and are grateful for. But what happens when those festivities are entwined with people that are unkind or hurtful? How do you navigate through the upcoming days and weeks without becoming angry, bitter, wounded, or stressed out?
For many people, the holidays are a source of overflowing love and appreciation for the family and friends that are in our life. For the times that can be shared together when everyone comes in harmony with the same gladness in their hearts for each others’ presence. Grateful for the gifts of time and connection, when we set aside our differences and just enjoy each other’s company. Beautiful moments in time to remember the specialness and sacredness of each other. An opportunity to create lifelong memories to be cherished.
Yet for so many people, the holidays are a source of pressure, expectations, and fitting in. We can feel that we need to be everything to everyone, and be everywhere that everyone wants us to be. Many times we are expected to walk the line and do what the family wants of us, sometimes even at the sacrifice of what is important to us and what we would choose. Even our own value and importance as a person can be diminished in the eyes of others because we may not be living up to the expectations that someone else has chosen for us. We can often be treated as the black sheep in the family when others look down upon us or judge us openly. Unfortunately, kind words are not always spoken at gatherings that are meant to be filled with love.
Many times we are able to navigate these difficult relationships with greater ease throughout the year than during the holiday season. Yet we feel obligated to interact with those people who don’t serve our ultimate purpose or goals, especially at this time of year. With those people who would rather drag us down than lift us up. How do we deal with these family frustrations when they may do more harm than good?
Here are some suggestions to make your way with more grace, peace, and yourself intact.
- Return to Balance – You don’t have to let stress ruin your holidays. Try to pinpoint what you’re anxious about. Are you feeling stressed because you’re not going to be able to fulfill your children’s gift requests? Are you and your spouse arguing over holiday expenses? Are you feeling left out because your friends are enjoying the season and you’re not? Start by considering your attitude. There’s no magic bullet, but your attitude can make a difference. Ask yourself: “Is my situation a small, medium or large problem? How upset do I want to get over it, and for how long?” Look at the possibilities around you, not the restrictions. Take a hard and honest look at everything in your life… the circumstances, the people, the situations and events in your life. Think about the things that made you happy last year and plan on continuing them year after year. Then think about the people and activities that created stress and unhappiness. Now is the time to really decide if these things are serving you and your wellness. If they’re not, consider how you can minimize or eliminate those things from this holiday season.
Rest and Renew – Our mind-body has an incredible system of self-healing. By removing ourselves from some of the unimportant holiday stressors and distractions, we enhance our innate healing powers. Take time for yourself – There may be pressure for you to be everything to everyone. Remember that you’re only one person and can only accomplish a limited amount of things in one day. Sometimes self-care is the best thing you can do… others will benefit when you’re stress- free. All of us need some time to recharge our batteries… by slowing down you will actually have more energy to accomplish your goals. Each day, schedule some time to be alone. When you consciously plan to have alone time, it keeps you empowered and reduces possible feelings of melancholy during the holiday season. You will also be also be less overwhelmed by external stimuli. Most importantly, stay connected to the things that keep you sane throughout the rest of the year. Those things that feed our souls, such as meditation, exercise, eating well, being with people we really care about and support us, are often the first to go as we tend to those things that we believe we ‘must’ do. Hold on to as much of your positive, supportive routine as possible.
Practice Meditation and Deep Breathing – The practice of meditation and deep breathing also restore our body and mind to a place of harmony and unity with our true nature. They can provide tremendous benefits during strenuous times. These self-awareness practices are the foundation of connecting with our divinity or spiritual essence, which is the source of all healing. Practice conscious breathing exercises ten minutes a day. This will keep you calm and relaxed through the end of the year. The simplest and most effective technique you can do is to do very frequent slow deep breathing from your abdomen. This will activate your relaxation response and help create more opportunities for balance throughout the day. Any time you feel overwhelmed or stressed, taking a few deep breaths will help you separate mentally and emotionally from the stresses. This is especially helpful when dealing with demanding family members, friends, or coworkers.
Decide to experience the holidays with more peace and less fear – Stop comparing yourself to other people. This will kill any chance you have for holiday serenity. Think about how you want your season to be, what you want to do, and how you want to feel on any particular day. Then focus on making that happen for yourself. When you find yourself comparing yourself to others, remind yourself that they may look perfect but everyone has their own issues and insecurities inside. Remember that everyone’s doing the best they can. Don’t take things personally this year. Let offenses roll off. Smile and send them good wishes… even when they’re mean. Remember that the grouchy people you encounter are just battling seasonal fear and it can create some pretty bad behavior… but this is where they are and they are dealing with it the best they know how. So anything they do or say that feels offensive, is really not about you. They are just worried about being good enough and their bad behavior is actually a cry for love. Decide to be the source of love in your community and family no matter how other treat you.
The shortest path to a happy life…is found through making conscious choices – Choose to make this holiday season about love for others… instead of fear for yourself. Lift people you meet with a kind word or a smile… take the time to ask questions and listen to people because it makes them feel important and valued… take the time to give your love to the people around you… in the end your presence means more than your presents.
Finally, this season, and in all seasons… Believe. Believe in whatever it is that is good and true. Believe in humankind, in nature and beauty, and music and laughter, and believe in the power of hope. Whether or not you practice a religious faith, you can believe in honor and goodness and cherished loved ones, and in the values by which we wish to live. We can believe in children, and a brighter tomorrow, and in possibilities beyond even your wildest dreams. Believe in this moment, right now. It really is a gift.
Wishing you all the best as you unlock your potential and experience your possibilities!