Presence Not Presents
It’s the quality of your presence that matters not the quantity of presents. Rather than wasting all your energy shopping for items that no one needs and that you can’t afford, focus on conserving that energy and the wallet for family and friends. Shopping can cause stress, anxiety, tiredness and fatigue, a formula that could lead to bickering and ill temper for some. Often we get ourselves so stressed out over buying gifts that we lose focus of what the holiday season is really all about, family and friends coming together over a warm meal.
If you feel anxious just thinking about spending time with your family and friends, perhaps due to past holiday experiences that went bad, try holding stronger boundaries this year. Set limits on what you are willing to share with others, and what you expect others to share with you. If there is a topic that creates too much conflict for you or other family members, steer clear of that topic. The most common examples are politics and religion. Be a role model and show respect for everyone’s responses and opinions. It’s perfectly acceptable to say, “let’s talk about something more light hearted,” and change the subject matter. Keeping the conversation light is the best way to dodge possible arguments and keep the energy positive. Playing games together, telling funny stories, or watching a funny movie all will lead to more laughter and less disagreements.
If you have watched alcohol get the best of family members and friends during holiday get togethers, keep your distance from the person(s) who is likely to get out of control. Recognize that you can’t control anyone’s behavior but your own. Observe the actions of others without getting involved and without judging them. Put your differences aside and take the high road, you will feel better about yourself in the end.
Once you’re at the gathering, if you have prepared yourself with plenty of rest, a positive mindset and clear boundaries but still get overwhelmed, make sure to take care of yourself. Take some brief relaxation breaks, it usually takes less than five minutes to calm yourself down. Tell your family members your going to step outside and make a quick phone call, then take a short walk and focus on your breathing, taking deep breaths through your nose and out of your mouth. Get yourself back in line with your reasons for coming to the event and let go of other’s comments or behaviors. Recognize who is the most comfortable to be around and stick around them as much as possible.
Don’t leave your healthy habits by the way side either. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t indulge a bit, however, if you are accustomed to exercising make sure to continue your routine. Not taking care of yourself is only going to make the holiday season feel that much more stressful. If you don’t typically eat a lot of sweets, then continue to avoid them around the holidays. This is not the time for headaches, stomach- aches or cranky moods to arise. This is a time to feel your best so you can fully enjoy your time with your loved ones. Do not forget about your health; take care of yourself first, so you can be there in full to enjoy this festive time with all the people you love. Just by showing up, you are giving those you share the season with a true gift from the heart, your presence.