How Can I Protect My Mental Health During The Holidays?
Your mindset has the power to dictate the direction of your life.
Did you hear that?
Your mindset has the power to dictate the direction of your life. That is powerful stuff, friends. And it is exciting.
That said, let’s cut to the chase here. The holidays are stressful. Christmas is sort of like an influencer’s Instagram page — shiny on the outside, messy on the inside.
That picture perfect view of twinkling lights, lovely pine trees and delicately wrapped presents does a good job of disguising family drama, the stress of gift-buying, and forced niceties between people who just don’t get along.
Whether you are a Scrooge or a chipper Elf, I give you 4 ways to reframe your mind in a positive light as you skip merrily along to your in-laws.
Here are 4 tips to make the Holidays enjoyable this year (especially when you’re not a holiday person)
#1 PLAN your get togethers ahead of time, dedicating the most time to people you actually want to be around — not who you feel forced to spend time with
If the theme of this holiday season is prioritizing yourself, we’ve got to really commit to it. And that can’t happen unless we stick to a plan of what some would refer to as being selfish.
If you’re planning on (safely) seeing anyone outside of your quarantine bubble, let me paint you a picture: Aunt Trudy wants a fancy Christmas dinner party at her house, followed by a gift exchange with the grandkids, ending with a family picture by the fireplace. Meanwhile, Good Friend Jon wants to host a small, low-key garage party, where he will serve Bud Light cans and meat and cheese appetizers.
The garage party sounds more appealing to you this year. But you don’t want to disappoint anyone, so what do you do?
In order to prevent hurt feelings, lay out the expectation now that you are happy to attend both gatherings (if you feel comfortable), but will be spending the better half of the evening at Good Friend Jon’s.
This will nip those feelings of guilt and anxiety in the bud, and ensure you will enjoy your socially distanced get together.
#2 Utilize this 30-second mindfulness trick when your outspoken brother-in-law gets on your last nerve
Referred to as the “half-minute shift” from Dr. Rick Hanson, a psychologist specializing in the science of positive brain change, this is a powerful way to get your mind right in moments of duress (or plain annoyance).
Here’s how to do it: (1) Take a long, slow, deep breath. (2) Take a deep breath while thinking of everyone you care about. (3) Take a deep breath while thinking of everyone who cares about you.
Step outside for some fresh air to really utilize this (quick!) mindfulness trick. I promise it works in reframing your mind to a place of gratefulness. Especially when you’re feeling irritated.
#3 Let the judgment from the “responsible” sibling roll off your back by owning yourself
What do I mean by “owning yourself?” I mean own who you are, where you are in your life, and what you represent, despite familial dismissals and eye rolls about your appearance, occupation, or place of residence.
Being back in our family cohorts (whether a physical place or presence of family members) can dredge up real emotional trauma. We walk into our old bedroom and BAM! We’re 15 again, feeling guilty for sneaking out the night before.
So, it makes sense that a condescending remark about your risqué blouse or expensive car can quickly trigger feelings of rage or guilt. Try and refrain from letting one comment about your lifestyle dictate your mood by gently reminding yourself that you are capital ‘S’ Satisfied with the person you are.
What to do? Simply change the subject and move on. Keep in mind that it is no one else’s business how you spend your money or what you do for a living. If your lifestyle makes you happy, it truly DOES NOT MATTER what other people (family members included) think about it.
That said, keep living life on your terms. And don’t apologize for it.
#4 Remind yourself that you are in control of the situation
Sometimes all we need is a reminder that we are in charge of what happens. We hold more power than we think when it comes to enjoying our lives (instead of complaining that the holidays look “different” this year).
Happiness is a choice, just like letting your aunt’s judgy comments get to you (or not) is a choice.
Life truly is what we make of it. If we head into our parent’s house dreading predictable conversations about politics, that fraction of time spent there is going to feel heavy and resentful.
On the other hand, if we swing the door open with a smile on our face and a positive mindset that the weekend is going to be great, that could very well change the course of the entire stay, and maybe even the rest of the holiday season.
Thank you for reading! :) May you have a fabulous holiday season, no matter how you’re choosing to spend it.
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