How to find that zen in the face of holiday stress
Preparing for the holidays and dealing with holiday stress one breath at a time
It’s that time of the year again. Many of us anticipate or start to feel anxiety building up about the holidays when we ask ourselves:
- How am I going to relax over the break to help me be better in the New Year?
- How am I going to stay on track with my new health regimen?
- How will I manage everything I need to get done during this busy time?
- How am I going to address personal issues with family when it’s none of their business?
Here’s my question to you: What’s your plan to deal with all of this before it happens?
We have the power to make small changes that can help alleviate some stress and anxiety that comes up during the holidays. All it takes is some simple planning.
We all have patterns that shape our internal dialogue, and often we default to these patterns and accept them even before they recur. For example, a typical holiday family pattern could look something like this: your parents plan to host a holiday dinner at their house, but your estranged grandmother is also planning to host a dinner on the same night. Every year, you may be faced with the daunting task of which dinner to attend and how to please everyone.
Many times, even just thinking about these patterns can leave you feeling frustrated, sad, angry, or anxious.
Here are some tips on how to ignite change in your thought patterns and intentions.
1. Sit with the patterns
Be honest with yourself about how you may contribute to the patterns. Even just by sitting back and accepting the patterns, you are still playing a role in addressing the negativity.
2. Rewrite the patterns, literally
Given the above example, rewrite a holiday where your parents and grandmother ask you when would be best to host the holidays and/or where you contact each of them and suggest a time and date. Visualize how you may cope differently.
3. Talk to the people in your life who are also affected
Talk to your siblings and friends and see how they feel. Come up with a plan together. For instance, decide on a special phrase that means you would like to go home, or ask for their support during hard times.
4. Have strategies for when the patterns occur
If your family insists on everyone being together for ten hours, plan some time alone by going for a walk. Bring the dog if you need some company!
5. Limit your time being immersed in these patterns
It’s okay to put up boundaries for yourself.
6. Visualize how you’d like things to look ahead of time
Each day for one minute imagine how you’d like to feel during this time, visualizing yourself as happy and calm. If you are an emotional eater, plan ahead and bring healthy snacks with you to eat. Do whatever you need to help you stay grounded and feeling good.
7. Try to recognize your learning and growth
Self-care, self-love, self-improvement. Keep going.
Remember, these patterns have likely been there for a long time, so it may take some practice before you see changes. Remember to celebrate even the smallest things that you accomplish.
Be kind, patient, and nonjudgmental with yourself
Be open to seeing what happens. Notice how it feels to challenge yourself and to rework the old patterns for a healthier you.
Published in The Ontarion as How to find that holiday zen in the face of family stress