First let me congratulate you. Taking a look at what you could do differently this year to make things flow more smoothly means that you are already making progress!
The overall theme to these tips will be “good enough.”
Ready? Let’s get started.
Tip #1 has two components that work together:
Remember that the holidays are supposed to be fun! There are many activities that happen in only a few weeks, and sometimes it can feel like you are just going through the motions out of obligation. Besides the many fun events, be sure to include some down-time to relax and recharge, and to fully appreciate the season.
Also, whatever you are doing, do it mindfully: really take it in with all 5 senses, whether it’s the bustle of shopping and family dinners, the quiet of a fireplace and hot cocoa, or the joy and mess of baking cookies. Take time to savor the many sights and sounds of the season.
My second tip for coping with the holidays has to do with managing all the obligations that can fill this time of year.
Take a firm, objective look at your list: Do we have to do all these things? What could we eliminate or shorten? Say no to some activities. Bake only 3 kinds of cookies instead of 12. Make time to enjoy your decorated living room. Plan time with extended family over the course of a week or two, instead of cramming it all into a couple days.
Some people might be shocked when you begin to set boundaries to care for yourself and your family, but these are your highest priority. You want to look back with fondness on holidays past, which requires savoring each part now.
My third tip for coping with the holidays has to do with managing your time and interactions with extended family.
When interacting with difficult people, it’s OK to allow them to be wrong sometimes. It can be exhausting to constantly defend yourself and correct these people. Certainly you don’t let hateful speech just stand, but if someone has a detail or two wrong, let it go.
Agree to disagree. If talk becomes so negative that you must address it, do it briefly, kindly, and firmly. “I don’t appreciate it when you call me that/tell that story/imply that about me. Please stop.”
If things get bad enough, leave. This is not rude when someone else has already been rude to you by crossing a boundary. Make plans for an easy exit if necessary: drive yourself, set a time limit, plan ahead of time to go somewhere else after the challenging event.
I hope you enjoyed these practical tips for dealing with the holidays.
If you’d like to talk more about a particular issue, I would be happy to meet with you personally. Just give me a call at 636-234-0035 and we’ll schedule a time to talk. My office is conveniently located in downtown Washington Missouri across from the Old Dutch Restaurant.
I look forward to helping you feel better!
Katie Walker, Licensed Professional Counselor