When it comes to holidays, having time off with family can be wonderful, but typically, family gatherings can also be a time of stress for many of us. It's important to create time for yourself to manage your self-care so that you're in a good place to interact with everyone. Keeping your cool during that much family time can be a challenge and usually requires a bit of preparation and mindfulness. It's important to get time for yourself during the holidays so they aren't filled with stress or anxiety. Here are some tips that can help you maintain your mental health and self-care over the holidays.
One funny quote sums it up for many people:
"Families are messy. Immortal families are eternally messy. Sometimes the best we can do is to remind each other that we're related for better or for worse...and try to keep the maiming and killing to a minimum."
— Rick Riordan (The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #2))
# 1 Learn Emotional Detachment
Family boundary issues can create a lot of stress when you're with your family during the holiday season. You might even have some unresolved issues with someone at home, and problems may arise when it comes to setting healthy boundaries with those members of the family. Remember, boundaries are not about what you're making other people do, it's about what you're allowing and what you will do. It's the difference between, 'don't talk about that' or 'you can't tell me' and 'I'm not willing/able to discuss that now please respect that,' or, 'if you continue to do/say that, I am not able to be around you right now.'
So, the best thing to do in that order is to try learning emotional detachment. Once you are able to practice it in real life, you will see that it is much easier for you not to get impacted mentally by someone else.
For that, you can try seeing the other person as a completely different individual and try to see their reactions as something that they can relate to. We all have our own experiences and if you realize people do the best they can with the emotional tools that they have. Try to be open to the idea that whatever they do is not something that you're responsible for but a consequence of their own thought process (and that is about them and less about you).
Also, most importantly, remember that you have zero power over what other people do. You only have power over yourself and your response. There is time between stimulus and response, and sometimes that might mean taking a deep breath and counting to three before responding. Once you learn to control your emotions, you learn the art of detachment. When you can detach from situations, you can be in control of your own happiness.
Also, remember that you don’t have to react to anything negative - you always have a choice.
#2 Practice Meditation & EFT Tapping
Another thing to try to integrate into your holiday time to maintain a sense of calm is mindfulness, which brings a sense of peace throughout your holidays. This is best formed with daily habit but is still helpful around the holidays even if you don't have much experience with it. Practicing meditation quiets the mind and the body to create a sense of space and calm. Take time to give yourself time to relax and clear yourself of any disturbing thoughts you might have, which is the reason why meditation is considered as among the essentials of self-care. You need to be practicing the art of meditation regularly so that you are able to process your emotions in a healthy way. Those with big pressure of work and dysfunctional families especially need to practice it on a regular basis.
There are many apps, many YouTube videos, audio recordings, and other ways to approach meditation. In meditation, by learning to detach, breathe, and create space for your mind, you create a sense of calm. Breath work is incredibly powerful as a way to maintain a sense of control over your emotions and your mind. As you take deep breaths, you can entertain thoughts without holding onto them and learn to let them go. Some people even find it helpful to imagine whatever thoughts that come to mind as clouds floating away. Make sure the surrounding space is free of noise and disturbing lights. Make your environment as peaceful as it can be for performing meditation to give yourself a few minutes of solitude.
Simply put, EFT tapping is used to better manage emotions, belief, and imbalance. The Journal of Evidence-based integrated therapy states that: "Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a novel therapy that combines both cognitive and somatic elements and is an evidence-based self-help therapeutic method and over 100 studies demonstrate its efficacy."
EFT can be very useful for a variety of situations when it comes to our mental and emotional health. Whether it's choosing gratitude, clearing limiting beliefs, managing stress about uncertainty, improving feelings of 'being enough' or 'worthy', addressing fears about situations we face every day, and removing the emotional charge of old negative memories that no longer serve us.
Read on here to learn how it works and how to do it yourself.
#3 Try Cooking Together for Fun
Cooking is not just about eating – it is an expression that speaks of our culture, and it joins us together as family. Try sharing in this experience to create something together. Plus, it's a way to share the responsibility that can sometimes bring up resentment when someone feels they're doing it alone. How we live together and celebrate the essence of cooking is one of the gifts of this time of year.
"Food is everything we are. It's an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It's inseparable from those from the get-go," -Anthony Bourdain
It is an art that is learned and created without the boundaries of time. What’s more, the holiday season is the best occasion to be celebrating the art of cooking perfectly and creating new family traditions tied to foods commonly eaten during this time of year. Learn to indulge as much as you can in this activity. Learn how you can play with different flavors and add a touch of love to all the recipes that you follow and those that you create yourself. Check out recipes on Pinterest.
The holiday season is the best time to cook together as a family and learn the culinary traditions of your culture or grandparents, and also introduce some new recipes to the family. You'll soon figure out that recipe creation is less about perfection and more about fun. As you cook with your children, partner, or parents, you can create stronger bonds with them as well. If you live by yourself, you can see cooking as something therapeutic that will take your mind off the issues while doing something fun and original.
"Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one's life," -Anthony Bourdain
#4 Take Time For Yourself
Take some time to sit back and relax and prepare your emotional and mental state before you interact with your family if you know you tend to overreact or get triggered by them. Don’t waste your time getting worked up about what's going to happen and dreading coming into contact with them. Try not to focus on past behaviors and mistakes, overanalyzing the present and worrying about the future, so that you feel anxious.
Take time alone during the day to journal, read, run errands, or something calm you can do alone to get e breather.. Give the kids time to color, help other family members, or take a nap so they're rested and not crabby. Get a moment to meditate alone - even if it means locking yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes.
Also, if there is something that you want to process, don’t hold it in. Talk to someone beforehand about it to have more control over the situations that could arise and how you want to handle them. It can be helpful to plan in advance how you want to make space for yourself.
This holiday season, spend time mindfully and productively by focusing on your mental health and self-care. It can be a very enlightening process in which you will get to know yourself a lot. You will feel that as you do these activities, you become a better version of yourself by the end of your holidays.
What are some of your best tips for managing family time?
ANDREA HUNT - Online Transformational Life Coach & EFT Tapping Practitioner based in Munich, Germany
I'm an accredited transformational life coach from Animas Centre for Coaching UK and a member of the International Coaching Federation. I'm also a Level 2 practitioner in EFT Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) and a member of AEFTP (Association of Emotional Freedom Technique Professionals).
If you're not sure where to start transforming your life, you can download my free ebook on How to Start Your Personal Growth Journey.
Are you ready to change your life, let go of old beliefs, empower yourself for a mindset shift to move forward? Mark Batterson says: You're always one decision away from a totally different life.
If you're interested in booking a free 15 minute discovery call for transformational life coaching, EFT Tapping or checking out my services page click here.
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