- Try not to show up and just hope for the best….with no plan.
- Try not to engage in conversations and/or topics that you know are challenging for you and for others around you. We know what they are, we have to be better at disengaging or walking away.
- Try not to have high expectations that the experience will correct or make up for past holiday experiences that were less than.
- Try not to control how other people behave around you during the holidays.
- Try not to forget to breathe
- Try not to forget to take time before, during, and after the holiday experience to regulate your feelings. It is much easier to make good choices and stick to a plan when we are feeling calm enough, focused enough, joyful enough.
- Try not to spend the holiday making other people feel good, focusing on other peoples needs, ensuring others’ joy.
- Try not to stay in a conversation, feeling, experience or moment in the holiday that you know is not serving you. Take a step back, even if just for a moment.
- Try not to forget to hydrate, rest before and after the holiday, and stay fueled.
- Try not to overuse any substances like sugar, nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, prescriptions medicine.
- Try not to do it alone. Everyone needs help sometimes, and holidays are no different, we need to choose our “buddy” who will help us through it.
This post will not be titled, “holiday don’ts”. When we tell ourselves NOT to do something that we have always done, sometimes it creates additional pressure and disappointment when we fail to achieve change. We want to, instead, have a perspective of reducing the choices that are not serving us and diminishing the patterns that we no longer need rather than zero tolerance. That way, we can incrementally move toward change rather than having unreasonable expectations and dashed hopes.
The conversation then becomes, “holiday try not to’s”. Holidays, regardless of which and when, can bring about big feelings in us. Those big feelings are normative and natural when placed in an environment where our past family patterns prevail. There are many other reasons the holidays can bring about big feelings. Sometimes topics can come up that arise differing perspectives on emotional stances like religion, culture, money, relationships, politics, and charged decisions. The holidays are also a time that we have high expectations for positive experiences combined with nostalgia and sentimentality which sometimes is a recipe for disappointment.
To successfully navigate this landscape, dotted with emotional landmines, we want to plan ahead and strategize. The following list is longer than I usually create for a blog bullet point summary, but I am doing that on purpose. I want you to have A LOT of different possibilities to choose from, as many of them will not work for you. We have to practice and try new things to determine what the right unique and individualized plan is for each of us.Remember, this is hard work and we need to have a reasonable expectation for incremental and phased change rather than perfection. Holidays would not show up as challenging for most of us if there was not substance to the adversity. First and foremost, as we try out new strategies and solutions, we need to be extra kind and compassionate to ourselves as learning is much easier when we manage our expectations.
Some of us work better trying to avoid engaging in patterned behavior rather than trying to do something new – read how below: