Making It Through the Holidays Intact

Here we are again, the leaves are off the tress, there is frost in the mornings. Even this year’s gloriously long warm spell must give way to the oncoming winter, and right in step we have . . . The Holiday Season. No one goes untouched. Some greet it with happy anticipation, others with dread, some do their level best to hunker down and ignore the whole rigamarole. Whatever your feelings about the stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year’s it’s likely you are facing some disruptions, be it travel, house guests, spending time with family, or dealing with loneliness. What can you do to make it a time of more joy and less annoyance? Try these ideas:

1) Remember What You Know

Every family has it's quirks, and all of us regress when returning to family, sometimes acting like the sullen teenager we haven’t been in . . . years.  If you think about it ahead of time, you can probably anticipate the aggravations you will encounter. Forewarned is forearmed. If you know your mother is going to throw a fit, or your uncle is going to drink too much, when it happens it,  doesn’t feel like such a big deal. So bring your sense of humor, and make it your project to stay out of the fray. If someone is doing something that offends you or hurts your feelings, get out of the house and take a walk. Remember that you can always politely say, “thank you for asking, that’s not something I can talk about right now.” See if you can find one thing to appreciate about each person present, and remember, not everyone has any family at all.

2. Don’t Neglect the Basics!

This is NOT the time to stop all those good habits you have been working so hard to develop. Be sure to exercise, meditate, make healthy food choices, don’t drink or smoke too much, and get enough sleep. These practices will help you keep a clear head, and give you the option of making better choices physically and emotionally

3. Train your Brain

The most powerful thing you have is your attention. Whatever you pay attention to will grow and flourish. So train yourself to notice the positives, and let the negatives take care of themselves! We are naturally set to notice threats and dangers, which, in modern terms translates into negatives. Make it your business to reverse this, and train yourself to focus on the positives. At the end of the day, pick out your three favorite things and write them in a journal or share them with someone in your life. Over time, this simple practice will train your brain to notice the bright spots and glaze over the dark ones.

Taking the time to reflect on these basic practices can change your experience fundamentally. YOU are in charge of how you move through your own life. Use your power to make your life better!

P.S. While these may be good ideas, remember, deep change is hard! There is no one-fits-all approach to anything. If you are thinking about these things, good for you! That alone paves the way for change. And Good Luck!!