Jingle bells, jingle bells, Jingle all around…. And the holidays are here! The Martha Steward elaborate dinners, the decorations, the gifts and vacation planning. Yet you feel gloomy and sad and are really having a hard time navigating this holiday season. If you are separated or going through divorce it makes perfect sense for you to feel this way. You might even want to go sleep and wake up once the holidays are over. That is why I am here to assure you that surviving the holidays is possible.
Prepare to survive the holidays with the following 9 tips:
1 – Loose the miracle on 34th street fantasy! It is NOT going to be perfect! the first thing you need to do is let go of that picture perfect holiday visions. Expect for things to not go perfectly – don’t have that story book mindset. Let go of perfection because it really doesn’t serve you well at all. “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”.
2 – Avoid winging it – Make sure to have a plan. Anticipate what part of the holidays you might struggle with and make a plan. Maybe you don’t have where to be Christmas Eve, or new year’s eve. Don’t assume that you are going to be fine, make sure to make plans so that you will not be alone. Make sure to have two plans, in case your original plan ends up being too overwhelming for you to actually pull through with. For example you can make plans to have dinner with your family for Christmas eve, but if that plan doesn’t work out, be sure to have another one ready, like maybe visiting the movies or doing something chilled at home with a friend or two. Do what feels RIGHT to you. Living in New York you would be surprised how many people actually go to the movies Christmas eve. I know shocking, but I have been there and have seen it myself.
3 – Communicate with your family or friends – One of the things I come across quite often in addition to this already stressful time of the year, are quarrels. Somehow people seem hyper sensitive at this time of the year and really allow little things to matter. In order to avoid confrontation or quarrels with your family and friends be sure to openly communicate that you are having a hard time juggling this holiday season, and that you appreciate their invites and will do your best to show up, but they shouldn’t take it personally if you don’t. As long as you communicate in advance they will understand.
4- Don’t be afraid to mix it up – There are no rules as to what you MUST do. We have this crazy fixation of how things have to be. We have to put up a tree and decorate our house, we have to make a lavish dinner, we have to have donuts and latkes, and the list goes on and on. Guess what? If you don’t want to set up a tree don’t!! If you don’t feel like eating oily stuff that will get your kitchen all greased up don’t’!! If you don’t feel like decorating your home don’t! Who says one can’t celebrate the holidays without these things? You can create a new way of celebrating the holidays, something new and different to mix and spice things up for yourself and or your children. This year for example I did Thanksgiving a little different then we usually do. Normally my whole family meets up and we have a beautiful dinner and all share what we are thankful for. However, I have my newlywed couple who just got married back in October, and felt like I wanted it to be more focused on them. In addition, it was their one month anniversary which made it even more of a reason to make it all about them. We had an amazing time, enjoyed a nice intimate dinner in our house, and then went out to play pool. It was different and so refreshing. Make plans, as mentioned above “don’t wing it”. Take out your calendar and check out which holidays, events you will be alone and plan accordingly. I had a client of mine make plans to fly down to Florida this year for Christmas to be with a friend of hers, because she knew she wouldn’t have her kids with her and really didn’t want to stay alone. If you have your children you will need another plan, but regardless be sure to make a plan and it can be new different and original.
5 – Change the setting – Sometimes when we change the setting we we can actually shift things. Think of when your child is having a meltdown for no particular reason and you take them out for a walk or to the park. Isn’t it magical how all of a sudden they shift? Maybe you need to re-arrange things in your house to bring in some different energy. Two years age my husband was stuck with a heart attack and stroke during the holidays (we were actually in the ICU over Christmas – will write about this more ad different time). A few month later while nursing him back to health, I ended up redesigning our dining room. I don’t know what possessed me, but I needed to bring in a new sense of energy and life into our home. It felt good and we felt a shift right away. If you are in a negative place change something, either bring in something new, or create something different. Changing your environment will help you get out of a negative thinking pattern.
6 – Boycott the holidays – If you want to do that you can do that as well, completely boycotting the holidays. Some people really can’t handle the feeling of the holidays and you are allowed to give yourself permission to NOT do all the obligations that come along with the holiday season. You don’t have to write Christmas cards if you don’t feel up to it, or even join your family. You can let your friends and family know you need to take a step back and take care of yourself. Give yourself permission to care of yourself first and foremost. It is a little harder when you have children, but you can cut back on things that are too much for you. Maybe it’s not getting gifts for everyone on your list or doing the exact same traditions you do every year. Tell your children we are changing things up this year. Your children will be happy as long as you are, and you will be happier or more at peace when you nurture yourself.
7 – Maintain safe boundaries – This happens to be one of the challenges most of my clients have, not just around the holiday season. Most of my clients don’t know what is necessary, appropriate or safe to share with others. That is why I always advise them to create boundaries! You do NOT have to tell your friends and family every little detail about your personal life. Did you find yourself saying specific details to a someone who you really aren’t close to, just to walk away asking yourself “why did I just tell her this?”, or “oh my I hope I can trust her with what I shared!” Some people mean well, but you still reserve the right to set a boundary and stop them in their tracks. Learn to have a mantra that you say to anyone who oversteps the boundary of respecting your personal life. for example: “I know you really care about me, but I am not ready to talk about it.” We often feel cornered and when we’re not ready to talk about the chaos in our personal life we end up sharing things we don’t really want to because we are caught off guard. I know that when I get nervous or overwhelmed I start talking and sharing too much. Know how you will react so you can avoid that.
8 – Gratitude journal – It is an amazing time of the year to start new things, so if you don’t yet have a gratitude journal get one now. A gratitude journal has an amazing positive psychological impact on us and is a great way to shift our mindset as well as bring positive energy into your life. I actually just finished a Happiness challenge which you can check out here and still try yourself. It is psychologically proven that when we think about what to write in our gratitude journals, whether daily or weekly, we end up training our mind to look for things that are positive in our life. The things you are grateful for don’t have to be big things. They can be simple things such as running water, or a warm house to come home to. You can make this a habit before you go to sleep so you focus on these positive thoughts and fall asleep and wake up with that energy. This is the gratitude journal I use. I absolutely love it!
9 – This too shall pass – This is actually something my dear mother always used to tell me, may she rest in peace. While traveling challenging waters she used to remind me of how strong I am and how I had overcome greater difficulties over the course of my life. Remember that the holidays will be over quite fast, and a new year is coming your way. Look beyond the holidays and start preparing for Newness. Make appointments for things that need to be taken care of, maybe you need to do an annual checkup which is really past due, or a dentist appointment, now is a good time to do all these things. Don’t allow yourself to get hung up on the holidays. They don’t last forever!
Don’t hesitate to reach out for support and get a PRIVATE confidential (and free) consultation session with me.
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