How to Stay Centered this Holiday Season

Hot cocoa and cinnamon

It’s that time of year! Once Halloween has come and gone, the weeks go by faster and faster as they’re filled with feasts, parties, and for many of us, lots of family time. Every person’s relationship with their loved ones is unique, and every family – whether it’s the one you’re born with or the one you choose – has a particular set of dynamics.  Needless to say, as much as one might love the holidays they can also be a time of stress and anxiety as your schedule gets busier and your alone time shrinks. Here are some tips for staying centered throughout the holidays, so you can have fun and enjoy them the way you were meant to!

1. Boredom is the devil’s playground. 

When my aunt and uncle first started dating, my aunt noticed that his family holidays were full of drama. He had tons of siblings and in-laws and it seemed like every Thanksgiving or Christmas, a fight ensued. My aunt’s theory? They were bored. See, my family and friends alike are big board game players. Yes, we’re all competitive so occasionally there’s some irritations, but even those are brief and in good fun. While not every group is into board games (spoiler: my uncles family is not), I do think there’s something to be said for bringing along something, other than your phone, to keep yourself entertained. Every holiday, I bring an activity of sorts that will keep my hands and head busy without removing me from visiting at the same time, such as a coloring book, knitting, a skimmable book, or even tarot cards. I might not get around to using it, in which case, great! But it’s a nice back up plan to have when drinking, eating, and visiting need a change of pace.

2. Remember to take time for yourself.

Fear of Missing Out applies to the holidays too. When you’re around so many loved ones, you want to keep visiting! But even the most extroverted of us need to step away to recharge, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Be mindful of your energy throughout the day and take the breaks that you need to. For some, that might mean retreating for a 30 minute nap, or in my case, pretending to nap while I’m really decompressing on Facebook for a sec. For others, that might mean visiting in a smaller circle for a bit by accompanying grandma to the grocery store or walking with grandpa to feed the chickens. When you’re around so many people, chances are that at least one or two take a little more energy than they return, and if you’re reading this you’ve probably got lots of energy to give. So make sure you refuel!

3. Know your triggers, and prepare your toolkit accordingly. 

Just as the holidays are a stressful time for me, I know they’re also stressful on my loved ones because I can see it reflected in their behavior which in turn, is sometimes triggering to me. For example, I know my mom will get incredibly frustrated about some detail or another not being how she likes it, but for fear of causing tension won’t say anything about it to anyone other than me. This however, causes her to be an angry ball of fire lurking around the living room. Being empathic and also a blunt personality, I pick up on the energy, say something about it, and the tension she’s been bottling up explodes…on me. Needless to say, it’s not fun but I know it’s going to happen.

Instead of gritting my teeth and getting ready for the showdown, I can prepare for it with some smoky quartz to block out negativity, some flourite to establish boundaries so I don’t pick up on other people’s energy as much, and some lapis lazuli to help with communicating effectively. Then, even when I know she’s a ball of fire (because let’s face it, your family’s probably not going to change anytime soon), I’ll be more prepared both mentally and energetically to simply disregard it and instead focus my energy elsewhere.

4. Do what you want to do, not what you feel you have to do. 

Lastly, but most importantly, the holidays are a time for you to have fun as well. I know it’s easier said than done, but try to be true to yourself and your wants as much as possible. There are some less than fun things you’ll have to do like helping cook or clean, but try to be mindful on if there are activities you’re participating in out of obligation instead of joy. For example, maybe putting up the Christmas tree just isn’t your thing. What if instead, you just chill on the couch with some coffee and watch? Most of the time, your loved ones just want you around and it’s not really about what you’re doing, as long as you’re present (so try putting the phone down).

Of course, everything is a compromise and the holidays are no exception. The reality is that while my cousin likes to say it’s her “vacation”, they can actually be exhausting physically, mentally, and emotionally. But that’s okay! When everyone gives each other just a little extra energy while remembering to replenish their needs as well, you might just return to home in one piece.

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