So here’s part two of guide to staying sane for the holidays.
The social part of the Festive Season is fun, ideally. It’s when we get to connect with old friends, family, make new connections too. It can be an incredibly nurturing time and full of genuine care and love.
There’s nearly always an accompanying pressure though isn’t there? Like, how can I get to meet everyone? How do I choose who to meet? where to meet them? How do I tolerate the people I find difficult? How do I cope when I have to spend time with a person (or people) I usually avoid?
OUr second focus: relationships
The worry: How will I fit everyone in? Visiting, inviting, feeding etc. etc.
Solution: Well, you may not fit everyone in. That’s the reality. If you accept the uncertainty around this then you will experience less stress. No one expects more of you than you do of yourself. Indeed everyone else’s expectations are so far away from yours that in distance terms they are visible only as a distant teeny weeny dot. Release yourself from these expectations – you are allowed to enjoy the holidays – other people’s enjoyment is not your responsibility.
We suggest that you prioritise and choose to spend time with people whose company is enjoyable and nurturing. People you like. As you read this there are faces popping into your head maybe? Visit those people.
Oh, and of course, learn to say ‘No’!
The worry: I don’t want to visit X. I’m so uncomfortable in their house.
Solution: Our suggestion here is either don’t go (that’s allowed too) even if this person is related to you. Or limit yourself to one hour and then arrange a reward for yourself afterwards (simple is fine – a walk, watching a movie you’ve been meaning to…). The reward will give you something to look forward to and something nice to think about if you need to “go to a happier place” while you’re there. And breathe….
The Worry: That person’s behaviour is embarrassing/ dangerous / abusive. I don’t want them in my house.
Solution: Don’t invite them to your house.
Now, we know that’s easier said than done. But we invite you to give this serious consideration. The holidays are filled with what feel like obligations, rules. They are just traditions though, habits. You do not have to play along. You can break a family tradition and the sun will still come up tomorrow.
This is quite a serious one for a lot of people.
Many families have people who are addicts, or narcissists, or who are abusive. At this time of year we tend to expose ourselves unnecessarily to these people. Mostly we do this out of a sense of ‘duty’, a sense of ‘family’. And it can be very, very hard, with consequences, usually for us. Arguments and abuse in families often escalate at this time of year because we tend to spend time with people that we would (wisely) avoid at other times. Add to that the socially accepted increase in liquid self-medication (otherwise known as “Christmas Cheer”) and we have a recipe for alcohol fueled disaster.
There is never an OK time to be abused. If someone is nasty, you do not have to invite them into your home, your safe place. Regardless of who else might have an issue with that. Regardless of the spoken and implied disapproval. Really, it’s OK. (And what’s more, you may well be helping someone else in your family by showing them how to say No).
You might also want to read this great article on ‘How to Handle a Crazymaker’. You’re welcome.
Always have an escape hatch:
This might be a plan that you’ve made with your partner or friend that when you give a signal, it’s time to leave. Or it may be an agreement that if a certain person is there, you are not to be left alone with them. Plans are good, and such a plan might help you feel more settled rather than fearful. Like our worry technique, finding a solution before something goes wrong, has a soothing effect on all of us.
So! Just because it’s the holidays and people are celebrating doesn’t mean you have to stay all day or night. So even if it’s 11.58 pm on New Year’s Eve, hightail it outta there if something’s happening that doesn’t sit well with you.
But if the mood is right, and the fun is good then celebrate well and safely! 🙂
We’d love to hear from you if you have other tips or experiences that our followers might find helpful so feel free to comment!
Our next post on simple holiday self-care tips will be along in a few days – sign up for email alerts if you’d like to receive it directly 🙂