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How to Manage Stress and Anxiety from Holidays with the Family

The ironic part about the holiday vacation is that it doesn’t usually feel like vacation

Retail therapy isn’t really doing the trick anymore

“Are you coming home for Christmas” says your mom’s iMessage incoming message at 9:08AM on a Tuesday.

These things seem to roll in at the most inopportune time. The deviant mind quickly offers up a reply “not this time, sorry”.

A few minutes go by, and then you send off the next message “Yep! Planning on it.”

At that moment, you realize the holidays are only three weeks away. Within a minute or two, you put down the task you’re working and book your flight home.

“Please confirm the purchase of your flight for $569.81”. You glance over the itinerary one last time and click “Purchase”.

I think every one of us has a similar series of thoughts process, “should I just avoid it this year? I just end up sitting around and getting anxious” or “man, flights never seem to get cheaper. But the family always expects me to make this happen” or “family usually just ends up stressing me out” or “it didn’t even feel like a holiday last year”.

Reframing the Holidays

It almost seems that we indulge in gifts, food, drinking and other impulses during the holidays to avoid the frustrations that come with cold weather and hectic family gatherings.

These all seem like a cover up, to be honest.

What if it’s not any of things things or people causing this issue though?

What if it’s how we're viewing “them”?

It’s easy to grumble about how one family member always does this or that, or that gifts are too expensive to buy for everyone, or that you don’t want to host this year.

It may be time to take a step back and try a different approach.

Here are three ideas to make your holiday less stressful

Before you begin, I beg that you intentionally open your mind for a moment. Sit back, get comfortable, and enjoy this moment.

1) Approach it with Levity

If you haven’t heard that word lately, try Googling it. A wise man once told me, “As with anything in life approach it with levity, and everything will be alright”.

Try to avoid letting your mind go down a rabbit hole of things that don’t please you.

Instead, trying intentionally being humorous and lighthearted. Crack a smile. Make a joke. Let the moment take a hold. It can really make you forget about the family drama quickly.

If your family is anything like mine, they love you and want you there. They’re not intentionally being boring, lame or negative, that just kind of happens when everyone’s sitting around and carb loading cake and comfort food.

Lastly, don’t take things personally. When someone asks why you’re still single, maybe quip “because I’m too pretty for all the boys in LA”.

Try to think about it from their perspective instead of judging. Why would someone say ask that rude question? Maybe try to piece together their logic “I bet aunty’s eager to see me happy, so she probably just wants to share that intent and hope for me”.

2) Practice Mindfulness

First, eating tends to be the bain of our existences on a holiday. Aunty’s get insulted if you decline desert. Mom’s get upset when you throw out the rest of your pasta plate.

But overeating can make us feel lethargic. When we’re tired, we’re moody (carbs spike then drop). So be mindful about how much you consume. Try to eat a bit slower so that you’re more aware of your fullness. Maybe avoid a desert and politely fib “I’ve already had some thanks”.

Next, meditation only takes a minute. Literally. The app Insight Timer has meditations as short as sixty seconds. I have a favorite three minute one called “Peace Beam”. If you catch yourself feeling irritable, a short meditation can calm your nerviness in a measurable way.

And when you’re home for the holidays, you’re generally time rich and dollar poor – instead of the opposite while we’re in work mode. So, make the most of it. Take a moment for you!

This increases your empathy and understanding. That makes it easier to get along.

If you'd like, I created an eBook around how to create a morning routine that incorporates mindfulness, which can be found here.

3) Try Gratitude

It’s strange that during thanksgiving and Christmas, the themes are literally thankfulness and gifting. Seems like it would be easy to have gratitude. Yet, it’s often hard to be grateful for the screaming kids running across the living room while you’re trying to sink into a peaceful food coma.

I believe saying a few words to yourself, and repeating it once or twice, can be really helpful. Try it now, you’ll see what I mean. Recite a few words of gratitude out loud, then repeat it at least once.

“I’m glad I get to see my family. There’s some people who don’t even have a family”

“I’m thankful I get to pig out rather than starve”

“I am lucky to have enough money to come home”

There’s a cold calling negotiation tactic I like for getting past a gatekeeper and through to their boss. It’s simple, you just repeat your request over and over until they put you through, “The intention of this call is to setup a call with Mr Smith regarding your capacity for 30-40 more product sales per month.” You wouldn’t think it works, but it damn does it work.

Maybe we can tell ourselves we’re thankful until our crabby mind finally breaks down and accepts that we’re actually grateful.

Happy Holidays for you and your family

Our reality is simply *our* read on the circumstances at hand. You decide how you feel – no one else.

Once coach told me, “Don’t give your power to them. They’re just being exactly how they are today, and you can’t hate them for that. If you let it upset you, you’re actually the one who loses. Not them. So, keep your power, and don’t give it over to them.”

So, before you go home for the holidays, think about how you want to show up every day for your loved ones. And if it feels right, make a decision to be lighthearted, mindful and grateful. If you’ve ever tried this before, I’m curious to hear how it went. Feel free to DM on instagram at @tcg_style.

 

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