This year, more than ever, it’s essential to take time to plan out the holiday traditions and festivities you want to enjoy this year, prioritize who you want to spend the holidays with, and communicate your plan to those you trust. The holidays are often a stressful time for many people, during an ordinary year—this year has added a whole new layer to the equation and chances are, stress levels are elevated as a result.
In the midst of all the mayhem, it’s important to remember that the holidays, while intended for time with family and friends, don’t always have to fit the cookie cutter scenario painted by society. Perhaps you’re in need of a break or a rest-bit from the daily grind. If that’s the case—it’s okay! Here are some practical tips that we hope will help you navigate through this season:
1. Plan and Prioritize – Sit down and make a physical list of what you want from your holiday. Yes, we meant to type you, not your mom or in-law’s expectations, simply yours and what your true desires are. Ask yourself what will it look like for me to live, lead and be well at this time? Perhaps for some, the answer to that, may be: more time present with your children. Once you identify your priorities, ask yourself what distractions or things could get in the way of this? Write those down and determine what you can to do to be proactive to combat those distractions. Share this list of priorities with your partner or someone you can trust so that they hold you accountable even when those distractions you were trying to avoid do pop up.
2. Choose your Community – Strategize how your prioritization needs will be met based on who you’ll be in company with. It’s important to be honest with yourself and determine exactly who in your life causes you to feel negative thoughts or steals your joy. Ask yourself questions like: “How do I feel after interacting with this person?”—“Do they make me feel empowered and energized, or drained and defeated?” have the power to avoid an anxiety-inducing environment that may hinder your holiday spirit. If your favorite holiday events have unavoidable scenarios where you may be faced with challenging individuals, we have some tips to navigate them. Start by determining if you want to be connected with a person and utilize these scenarios.
No, I don’t want to be connected with this individual. If you don’t want to remain connected with the person accosting you with some controversial subject, simply respond with one word, “Oh.” That’s it. Keep your voice and tone calm and flat. Don’t inflect your voice with a question—that will only invite them to speak more. By using one, simple word, it leaves no room to take the conversation further.
Yes, I do want to be connected with this individual. If the person is someone you do want to stay connected with, be frank and respectful in setting your boundaries. Say, “I want to have a relationship with you, but I think we disagree on this topic and I don’t want it to divide us. Can we talk about something else?”
When we change how we communicate with those we disagree with, or those we have misunderstandings with, we create the possibility to change perception and deepen the relationship. Look at these holiday events as opportunities to strengthen the relationships that you value most.
3. Take Time for Mindfulness – This is especially important to maintain even during the craziness of the holidays. Staying centered helps you to be the best version of yourself and to think more clearly. Mindfulness means taking care of yourself, practicing meditation, and connecting with your inner self.
- The ,Calm app is an award-winning app that has calming exercises and breathing techniques to help you relax. There’s even a Calm Kids section with meditations for kids ages 3 to 17. The “Sleep Stories” section of the app features a great mix of voice talent, including actors you may recognize such as Matthew McConaughey or Jerome Flynn, to lull you to sleep.
- 10 Percent Happier App- This is a personal favorite, as it includes an aggregate of world -renowned mindfulness teachers. You can select from options on specific topics related to sleep, stress, etc. It encourages mindfulness as a practice and helps you build that muscle through consistent routine.
- The Apple Watch also provides plenty of tools for practicing mindfulness such as breathing exercises, mindful walking meditations, and calming exercises. Tap into helpful resources to hold you accountable! Additionally, through sharing your plan with someone you trust, you can also establish an accountability buddy!
The holiday season can be stressful for many different reasons, but this year, prioritize yourself first. Instead of just going with the flow and doing the activities that your family plans for you, plan ahead and strategize what will make you the happiest this season. If you give that to yourself, you’ll be more inclined to give that to others. Let’s end the year on a positive note!