Survival Skills for the Holidays

December 25th, 2010

The holidays can be such a surprising time.  They take us out of our routine which can be both wonderful and a welcome relief from the day to day routine.

At the same time, there can be comfort in our day to day routine that may get discombobulated as our  lives build to a fever pitch in anticipation of everything “closing down” on Christmas.

If you’re spending time with family, you may find yourself triggered (as I do myself) by any number of things. Just think of a couple things that may irritate you where perhaps you find yourself saying something like this:

  • “Whyyyyyy do they do that?”
  • “I better not say anything but man that really grinds my gears.”
  • “Remind me why we’re doing this again?!”
  • Fill in your own head scratching question or comment!

When the noise in my head gets too loud, I know it’s time for a break. It can often take me a while to be willing to acknowledge that noise – I often find myself saying to myself “hey, this really is fun!!” – while a teeny tiny part of me says “reeealllly?”

Sometimes it takes me a while to remember that I’m entitled to what feels good to me (which often differs from what feels good to my family) – especially as the voice in my head says, “Look, we’re all together – this is what you’ve wanted.  Right? Just enjoy it.”

Separating myself from that chatter, I remind myself that yes, being with my family is exactly what I want.  And there are many moments that I really enjoy.

And it is unrealistic and impossible to enjoy every single one of those moments.

Sometimes it takes me a while to develop the willingness to try what I’m about to mention – but  here’s what is helpful to me.

I hope that in some way these ideas may help you find your own way to make your holidays more of what you want them to be.

People vary.  Life is complicated.  So, what works for me may not be your cup of tea. (Speaking of which, I think I’ll make one- good idea!!)

Here’s what I do:

1.  Notice What’s Up:  I notice the dialogue in my head feels uncomfortable in some way.  I ask myself gently what’s uncomfortable (common themes for me are I’m frustrated, irritated, annoyed, feeling angry, sad, or resentful about something)

3. Body Talk:  I check in with my body and find a spot that could use a little TLC.  It may be my head, my heart, my hip – you get the idea.  (it goes like this – ohh, tight jaw, shallow breath, right hip aches, etc)

4.  Help is on the Way: I let my body inform what I do next.

5.  Now what? Then, I notice how things are feeling.

This can take all of two seconds and amount to a couple deep nurturing breaths.  It can take the form of a two hour nap.  It can mean cleaning up the kitchen (for the umpteenth time) which often gives me a sense of order which I thrive on.  It can be reading a great book in my room.

I wish all of you moments of great joy celebrating the holidays with those you love – and for those other moments, great survival skills that truly work for you.

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