Keeping the “Happy” in “Happy Holidays” – The Personal Side
I could write a novella about drama I have personally experienced during past holiday seasons. I am definitely still learning how to prevent and diffuse interpersonal conflict, especially during the holiday season, but here are some things I have discovered.
1) Prepare and protect: If you are planning to be around someone you are on the outs with, address the issue before you will spend time together. For example, if you and your sister got into an argument the last time you were together give her a call and try to clear the air before Christmas dinner. Also, protect yourself from future disagreements by avoiding hot topics (see my “canned answer” in the practical blog on this topic) or avoid the person altogether.
2) Find solace in silence: I mean two things by this. First, create a space for silence a few minutes each day so that you can pray, meditate, give thanks, etc. Just ten minutes each day will benefit your emotional health and help you feel more centered and peaceful. Second, embrace the idea that silence—when dealing with difficult people—can be liberating. I naturally want to respond when someone lashes out at me or tries to talk about something that makes my blood boil. However, when I am able to offer a canned answer and/or stay silent, I later feel so much better about myself and the way I handled the situation. Just because someone talks does not mean we have to respond.
3) Become a minimalist (at least for the holidays): Less is more in the holiday season. I purposefully make very few plans with loved ones during the months of November and December minus Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. I don’t schedule lots of nights out with friends or have people over for dinner like I regularly do throughout the rest of the year. In past years I have found myself feeling exhausted by the end of the holiday season. Now I guard my time in the months of November and December as sacred.
4) Self-care: I cannot stress this one enough. Whatever you do to feel good—read, work out, go on a date, volunteer—make it a priority this holiday season. Also, eat well and go to bed early as much as possible. It is easy to forget self-care during the holiday rush, but it is essential to not only survive, but enjoy the holiday season. I like to think of the holidays as a marathon and not a sprint. In recent years I have tried to do too much too fast and burned out. Now I try to plan and space things out as much as possible.
The holidays create what I call “good stress” and “bad stress” in one way or another for most people. However, with a little preparation and self-care we all can not only muscle through, but genuinely celebrate and delight in the holiday season. If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed, you might need some holiday help from a licensed mental health counselor.
A trained counselor can help you identify ways to manage stress and have successful interpersonal relationships year-round. There is no better gift than investing in yourself and your emotional health. If you would like to speak to a seasoned mental health counselor, please call Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862.