Surviving the holidays
I know there are a lot of blog posts out there this time of year talking about how to survive the holidays. So thank you for reading, and hopefully you get a taste of something new and fresh from this post.
The holidays often mean lots of family time, financial obligations, travel, and over consumption of sweets and alcohol. We bear down, get through it, and desperately wait until the New Year, so we can clean out and de-clutter (our mind and our lives).
But do the holidays really have to be about spending money and negotiating personalities around the dinner table? I think we have a choice in this. We have the choice to take care of ourselves by setting boundaries, giving love through gestures instead of stuff, and being mindful of our consumption. We can choose to let go of our historical patterns by either not participating in unhealthy traditions or letting go of the negative associations we have with these traditions.
But how do we do this? Well most of us navigate the holidays on auto-pilot. So start with deepening your awareness and being more mindful. This is tough. The holidays feel chaotic and our auto-pilot allows us to check-out. But this often does not serve us. Going on auto-pilot means dissociating from our lives and our relationships, which means we are probably NOT our best selves. Dissociation also leads to shame, blame, avoidance, and anger. By not living in awareness, we make mistakes (ex. we over consume). Which is fine, but If we are living “checked-out” then we are also probably not ready to take accountability for those said mistakes. So what happens? We feel shameful. And this feels AWEFUL! We don’t want to feel it, so we avoid it. We blame others. We get angry. And now we are in a yucky cycle. So invite in awareness this holiday season, a little goes a long way.
What else can we do? Take time away. Yes, you can participate in self-care even during the holidays. Instead of playing the family Christmas game, go take a bath. Go read a book. Take nap (it’s hibernation season). Journal. We are living in a self-care generation. Take advantage of it. You can even blame the extra personal time to a blog you read….
And what about those toxic family patterns? Set boundaries. We talk about boundaries as if everyone gets what we mean. Let’s explain it a bit. Boundaries can be physical, financial, emotional, and spacial. When therapists talk about boundaries, we are often referring to your emotional boundaries. An emotional boundary is like a personal property line. We assert our emotional boundaries by explaining and standing by our values. If we are someone who appreciates honesty, and we have felt someone has been dishonest, we explain to them with compassion, truth, and authenticity that we feel hurt by their dishonesty. And then we also explain what we need in order to maintain our relationship with them. That “need” may include space from that person. When we share our boundaries with others, we form healthy relationships. Setting a boundary with someone you love is not mean, uncaring, or selfish. It means you are caring for yourself (and ultimately for your relationship with them). Setting a boundary also frequently involves saying, “no.” It can feel weird to tell someone we love or are close to “no” (especially if we are people pleasers). However, by saying, “no,” we also are practicing self-care, naming our limits, and being vulnerable, which ultimately nurture relationships in the long run. So start practicing saying, “no” before the family time starts…and you’ve had a few glasses of wine…and are being asked why you aren’t married, if you plan on having children anytime soon, or if you are willing to sleep on the couch again this year. Setting boundaries for you may also mean that you aren’t breaking the bank for Christmas presents this year, or you don’t spend the money/time/energy going home for the holidays. The conversation always feels awkward. But the awkwardness is better than sacrificing your wellbeing during an already chaotic time of year.
Awareness. Self-care. Boundaries.
Have a happy holiday from Boost Counseling & Consulting!