Festive lights, holiday music, parties to attend, and families coming together to share time, gifts, food, laughter, old stories, previous grudges, critical comments, rolling eyes, unsolicited advice and too many people sharing the bathroom. Aren’t you so excited?
All snarkiness aside, the Holidays are a wonderful time of year and yet one of the most stressful events that we all participate in and some of us just attempt to “get through” year after year. Holidays can be tough on relationships. If this is something you can relate to, I am here to help.
For some people, Holidays mean spending time with extended family which can be both wonderful, and taxing. These are people that we don’t normally spend a lot of time with and so often a great deal of expectations for how this time is going to be spent and how it is all going to go can come into play. The fact is, most of us have that one or two “odd” relatives that always add some kind of unusual experience to family gatherings; whether it is the overly nosy mother-in-law, or the uncle that drinks too much eggnog and gets inappropriate in front of the kids, the Holidays can be a time of tension simply because of the pressure of the long list of things can go wrong.
For other people, the Holidays mean missing someone (or more) that they do not get to spend time with. This is a whole different feeling that can make this time feel extra lonely, heavy and darker than usual. The happy music and twinkling lights can feel like an insulting reminder of togetherness times of the times in the past, making the present time harder to connect to and feel good about.
Many of us have a combination of these things going on at the same time. It’s a complicated time of year!
Surviving the Holidays
So, in light of the joyous season and the underpinnings of anxiety and sadness that many of us don’t like to admit we are experiencing, here is a list of tips for not only surviving the holidays but in finding a little extra peace and love as we finish out another year:
- Get real about it. If you are feeling sadness or anxiety or a cocktail of both, know that you are not actually alone and that feeling this way does not make you a Scrooge. It makes you super duper NORMAL. Take a deep breath. Let the day open up in all of its glorious reality of what is instead of what is not.
- Team up. Feeling alone? Find another friend who is missing someone too and share a little time doing something special. Reach out. The fastest way to cure your own loneliness is to erase somebody else’s.
- Take a break. Sometimes the much anticipated “togetherness” can end up feeling quite overwhelming. Be sure to give yourself permission to take a little break when you need it. Hide in the bathroom if you must, but even better, take a brief walk and get some fresh air, or offer to be the person who runs to the store to pick up that forgotten something. Needing a little alone time and calmness doesn’t mean you don’t madly love your family.
- Embrace the magic of mediocrity. Okay, so striving for mediocrity is NOT what I would normally be encouraging anyone to do…except in this case, it can actually work. There can be great pressure placed on ourselves with high expectations of creating the perfect Norman Rockwell worthy holiday family scene. The perfect meal, the perfect table setting, the lights, the ribbons and bows and gifts and every little last detail of the day. That kind of perfection can just suck the fun right out of anyone as soon as something goes wrong. And it usually does. And that is life. Give it a good hearty laugh. Holidays do not need to include the miserable trap of perfection; most families are whacky, weird bunches of zany when you get right down to it. Relish the imperfection and enjoy the realness of the less than ideal. Take the pressure off and let yourself enjoy this time!
- Take pictures. If you are lucky enough to have people with you at the holidays (friends, family, neighbors, anyone!), take pictures. Mark the times with permanent memories that you can look back on later. Let the camera witness your moments and save them. Trust me on this one. When you take pictures, it makes you stop and look at what is happening around you. It brings you into the present moment as you search for the gifts that the day has to offer. Capture the goodness going on around you.
Happy Holidays to each and every one of you. I wish you wonderful memories and reasons to laugh, smiles to capture and funny stories to tell later on!