Let’s be honest. Many people dread the holidays because of their family. Everyone has at least one family member who drives you crazy when you spend more than 20 minutes together. And the holidays are usually the one time during the year where you have to spend an extended amount of time in close proximity. Now, I’m not here to tell you that you have to get along with everyone in your family – that’s probably unrealistic. However, you can enjoy your holiday celebrations in spite of the people you may be around with a few simple mindfulness practices.
If you know who you’ll be spending time with, prepare your mental and emotional self fully for the time you’ll be together. This is different from worrying about what might be said or done – doing this will do you no good and will just drain your energy. Prepare yourself instead by visualizing that person and interactions you’ve had in the past. Now visualize an imaginary shield that whatever he or she may throw at you (words, actions, etc.) will be deflected and you will remain protected. Imagine becoming stronger with every blow they attempt and their attacks crumbling against your shield.
Breathe and Relax
Take at least three deep, belly breaths to calm yourself even before you see this person. Make sure you’re not breathing shallow and high in your chest. Get oxygen all the way down as far as it will go into your torso. As you breathe, relax your body by letting go of any tension or tightness you might notice. You might even get a stress ball, Play Dough, or Silly Putty to squeeze while you do this exercise. Take these few moments to relax your mind and body before, during, and after your time with this person. Breathing this way is proven to lower anxiety, combat stress, and increase happiness.
Intentionally take small breaks (to the bathroom, the kitchen, the grocery store, etc.) to distance yourself briefly if you feel you are being triggered and becoming overly annoyed or angry. If you allow this person to affect you in this way, you are letting them win. You are the only one in control over your emotions and actions. When you feel yourself getting flooded, you need to take a time-out for your own health and well-being. Politely excuse yourself and while you are gone, focus on something else rather than let what was triggering you consume you. If you do the latter, your break will not be a helpful one.
Stick With Positive People
Balance your time with other people and make sure you spend time with other family members or friends whose company you enjoy. When you surround yourself with positive influences over negative ones, you’ll be much happier and create a less stressful environment for yourself.
If you keep these simple practices in mind over the holidays, you’ll be sure to enjoy your time much more and not allow others to rob your joy. Happy Holidays!