We love our families– we really do– but sometimes they can drive us absolutely insane. And at no time is that more possible, or likely, than during the holidays.
It makes sense. Between mandatory social calls, money worries, and lack of sleep people are on edge. Add in being around family, and we suddenly revert to the old behaviors and habits we displayed in junior high or elementary school. It’s no wonder why we often return from the holiday break needing an extra week to just chill out.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few quick tips and easy suggestions that should add some comfort and joy to your life over the coming season.
Just Say “No!”
The world won’t end if you don’t agree to every “obligation”—which probably isn’t that important anyway. Write down everything you think is a “must do” and prioritize, giving emphasis to events you know you’ll enjoy. This concept also applies to purchases.
“Set limits,” says life coach Michael Moniz. “Decide how many parties you will attend, what your gift budget is, how many cards you will send, etc.. If you are going to the party, buying the gift, or sending the card because you want to, then do it. If you are doing it because you feel you have to, then don’t.”
Take a Breather
When faced with a tension-filled situation, take a second to breath. Kendra Fried, a board-certified holistic health and nutrition counselor, suggests you thoughtfully focus as you breathe. “Feel your feet on the ground, feel breath rising in your belly—and realize that often your old issues are being triggered. Have a mantra or comforting reminder that you can say to yourself to bring you back to the present moment.”
You should also be prepared. Have your breathing mantra ready before showing up to any potentially stressful event, that way you’re never caught off guard.
Give of Yourself
If money’s tight, don’t kill yourself to meet anyone else’s expectations. Put a love letter in that special someone’s stocking, donate time to a cause your loved-one cares about, or host a “no gift” potluck for friends. Chances are good they’re in a similar pinch, so knowing that they’re not obligated to bring a present could very well be the best gift you could give them.
The best way to beat the holiday blues is having people you love around you. Phone calls, e-mails, and IM/webcam chats can help you feel connected. And if you are feeling down, don’t hide away. “This just feeds the blues,” says Moniz. “Talk to people who you love, make you smile and make you laugh.”
It’s important to not forget your own needs. Whether you enjoy watching TV, taking a nap, or indulging in an at-home facial, make sure that you’re a priority. Set aside time for yourself– schedule into your calendar if you need– and do it!
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
When gathered in groups we often take stock of our lives and consider where we’re at– especially at the New Year. While self-improvement is great, obsessing over how someone is more successful, in better shape, or happier than you does nothing to improve your life. In fact, it only hinders you from helping yourself.
At this time of year it’s important to focus on all the things you do have, how blessed you are, and what elements you want to work on in the new year. By keeping things in that kind of balanced perspective, the winter holidays can actually be (mostly) stress free, and filled with feelings of hope and opportunity.