Surviving the Holidays- and actually enjoying them- is entirely possible with a bit of self awareness and smart strategies designed to help you keeping your composure and situational awareness, hopefully at all most of the times. Think about a person’s resilience like the interplay of different sub kinds of elements affecting the whole individual. Thus, there is a physical domain, a spiritual domain and emotional and mental domains overlapping in each one of us. And, as we will see it is not possible influencing one of them without having some effect on the other. If you think this is an understatement, think about how a combination of too-much alcohol, little sleep and emotional instability can wreck a family party in minutes. In the other hand, Holiday festivities can be a stretch on our ability to accept reality as it is. Old grievances, sibling’s hostility and well documented family animosities may come afloat and get in the way when we get together with our loved ones just trying to have a peaceful drama-free time.
Here are some good pointers, actually research-based tips on how to go beyond duty with grace and put forward your best self for this lovely season:
1. Physical domain: Take care of your body. I know this may not sound like a groundbreaking advice, but you will be surprised of learning how insomnia, pain and physical discomfort of any kind can weaken your overall resilience and influence –dangerously– your reactions to stress. Newly research has established that even slow digestion, food allergens and a clogged colon can influence moods because serotonin is synthesized and stored in the intestine. Helpful tips: avoid overeating stuff you know it’s bad for you and stay away from excessive sugar consumption, remember you will need all your serotonin. Also, if possible favor lunch or early dinner over late dinner. Meeting with those difficult relatives too late or at the end of the day when you’re a tired from a long day calls for disaster because your resilience – and tolerance- is lower at night. And VERY importantly, avoid sparing freely on intoxicants (from Theraflu to any hard core recreational drugs).
2. Spiritual domain: Recognize that every member of the group brings a deeply intimate and personal stance on spirituality. Perhaps a long journey has taken you far from your parent’s or you have a radically different outlook on the whole thing but the Holidays are not the most conducive time to hold theological arguments over scripture or religion, in particular other’s religion but yourself. Helpful tips: practice tolerance and please avoid discussing your living will, life support decisions and whether or not your niece should be married to her best gal friend at this time.
3. Mental domain: Think about your strengths and mental talents in other less difficult areas such as work or social interactions involving people other than your family. Quite a shocker, you will find your talents make you able to focus and be flexible enough to incorporate new points of view, be heard and even respected! So you can prep yourself by aligning emotions and thoughts with your intention. Helpful tips: practice active listening ~without anticipation. Make an extra effort to be engaged but not attached to the outcome, just as you would with colleagues or friends. Remember, you’re neither a mind reader nor Yoda, just one more guest around the table.
4. Emotional domain: This is where most of your energy leaks and health ailments come from! Emotions and attitudes are helluva fuel, or lack thereof, for your physical health, overall resilience. Be certain that Emotions impact your ability to make intelligent decisions, those ones that are aligned with your values and with your innate sense of self. However, if you haven’t started working on this previously, the Holidays are not the time to start flaunting your newly discovered self-awareness to others. But, you can do some serious body and emotional scanning for depleting emotions such as resentment, sadness and frustration and practice shifting those into gratitude, tolerance and love. Helpful Tips: Breath and prep throughout the day, focusing to a positive emotion to create an emotional shift. Also, try to speak at a lower volume than usual, so you can become aware when your emotional noise increases as you start raising your voice.
Like most things in Life, Holidays will be what we make of them. It also seems like a sensitive choice to focus on what or whom is missing, so we grieve, we miss and we feel that we own every right to be upset about a loss, or be stressed out and anxious during these times. But, if for some reason you are over about spending your Holidays this way, you have a great opportunity to try something different. These simple E.Q strategies require INTENTIONALITY and PURPOSE and of course PRACTICE, over and over before we can break that love-hate cycle that fill us with guilt, stress and anxiety.
Good luck and have a great time this Holidays!
Fiorella Velarde M.S, M.Ed Certified Heartmath® Resilience Trainer & Six Seconds E.Q Practitioner