Think about your best holiday time in your entire life. What made it so great? How old were you? Where were you? What was happening? for many people, the holidays are a wonderful and exciting time of year. But for others, the holidays are challenging at best. How do you feel about the holidays? If you are like a kid and are excited for gifts, fun, and family, no need for you to read on. But if you are dreading the holiday season, keep reading to find ways to cope and maybe even enjoy them.
Does the holiday season remind you that you have to see your Uncle Ed who tends to imbibe too much or does it remind you that you have to buy gifts for people you don’t really want to or even feel like you know that well? Does the holiday season remind you that you may have to sit next to your sister -in-law at the dinner table who tends to wear too much perfume? How can you take care of yourself and actually enjoy the holidays??
Brenda, a successful banker had always love the holidays as a child but once she got married and had a family of her own, somehow it became complicated. She would joke the the “fun” in the word dysfunction was what she would try to concentrate on when both her family and her husband’s family got together. Oftentimes, she felt she had to make sure her brothers and sisters got along with her in-laws. Other times she worried about what to serve because of one of her cousins was allergic to fish, her father-in-law only liked meat and potatoes and two out of three of there siblings were vegetarian. Then, the issue of gifts would arise. If she bought her kids certain video games or clothing, her sister’s kids would wonder why they didn’t get the same thing. Inevitably, each year, no matter what she bought her family members, someone would be unhappy and ask where it was bought so they could return it. As far as Brenda was concerned, the holidays were simply a time of pure stress!
- Remember what the holiday is about for you. Try to incorporate this meaning somehow, even if you have to sit quietly and meditate about it for five minutes before all the company arrives.
- Remind yourself that we don’t choose our families, but instead we can choose how to respond to our families.
- Keep it simple. Stay focused on the goal: to enjoy the day with your family at this holiday season. Or for others, it may simply be to get through the day.
- Take breaks as needed. Excuse yourself if you are feeling overwhelmed by stepping outside for fresh air.
- Find a family member who ‘gets it’; one you can simply look at across the room and nod your head knowing that everyone (most likely) means well. If it just often difficult when many people get together with different sets of needs, wants, and expectations.
- Try not to overindulge with alcohol or food to help you cope. Instead, schedule something you can look forward to at some point during the season, either a great movie, meet a friend for lunch, or even a vacation.
- Remember they all may be thinking about how difficult you are too!
Whatever you do to celebrate or acknowledge the holiday season, it can be a time of reflection and renewal. What was your 2015 like and what do you want your 2016 to look like?
However you spend your holidays, I wish you well.