When I say “holiday” and “family gathering” in the same sentence do you panic a little? It's OK if you do. It's even OK if you get excited at the same time that you panic. Holidays are great, and wonderful, and full of joy. And occasionally -- completely overwhelming. I'm here to help you out this time of year, whether you celebrate with 2 or 200 people. These 5 tips for holiday season sanity, along with 5 minutes of refuge and peace (a free guided meditation!) can help keep you relaxed until the last twinkle light dims.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: Holidays can be an emotional roller coaster. Oh you knew that? Well I’m glad we share some secrets.
My holiday snapshot: Not including my in-laws, I have 4 grandparents, 10 aunts and uncles, and 17 cousins that have made a new generation of 13 humans and counting. There are 10 more people that I'm not actually related to, but they've been around for so long I can't tell the difference. Sometimes there are dogs and cats ready to swipe your food. One dog wears a diaper (it’s not mine). My parents, husband, brother, and I are a small contribution to this mighty crowd.
At family Christmas I’ve seen new babies passed around to be loved on, and I've seen toddlers have an actual fight-club-style fist fight. There have been sibling meltdowns, and awkward new girlfriend introductions. I get to hug my most favorite people. Someone once told me “thank you” for a gift, and immediately told their spouse they hated it (I was still in earshot). I've seen my grandma receive a gift so thoughtful from my Dad, that her joyful tears silenced the room enough to hear them drip onto the wrapping paper. Sometimes we're all half-past tipsy, and belly laughing.
Your holiday may be a little less (or much more) exciting than mine, but I’m sure there are times you can use help, as well as a moment of stillness and calm. Consider these:
1. Be nice.
Most of the time, there’s no harm in being nice. Your mom’s being passive aggressive? Don’t play into it, but do be nice. Your uncle’s obnoxiously loud? Bring earplugs... and extra for your favorite cousins. Offer to do the dishes. Listen to conversations instead of checking your phone. You won’t regret being nice to your family and friends when you see them.
2. Have a safe space to not be nice.
Ideally, you could always be nice. Realistically, you might need to get some stuff off your chest. Have a person you can dish to, maybe even trade holiday “dishes” with long distance friend over the phone. My dish space is the car ride with my brother. He's a safe sounding board for all things that went unsaid: funny, disturbing, absurd, or otherwise.
3. Feed your needs.
I'm not talkin' comfort foods (but I will be eating them). I mean, make sure your body has the nutrients it needs to be calm and happy. Did you know happiness is a scientific thing? Happy is made by a chemical in our body called Serotonin. To make and regulate Serotonin we need Vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acids. We also keep a lot of serotonin in our guts! So happy bellies make for happy people (and not just because you filled them with pie)! Keep your brain, body, and belly happy by getting enough Vitamin D, Omega 3’s, and Probiotics throughout the holiday season.
4. Physical activity
Go for a walk. Play chase with the kids. Exercise releases another happy chemical (dopamine) into your system. Physical activity also stimulates endorphins which relieve anxiety, and in the words of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t.” Ok, that's a little far, but you get the point!
5. Take a minute (or 5) to meditate.
Meditation is powerful, and it’s getting more and more recognition for how amazing it is. Even short meditations can heal your mind and body, and have shown to lower stress and anxiety (those don’t ever happen at holidays, right? I kid!). Left alone, I’m a terrible meditator. But I can hide in the bathroom at a family function and listen to someone else walk me through it. This is when I call on friends that are GREAT at meditating, and teach hundreds of people how to find peace. You’ll appreciate this next introduction:
I have a friend named Marsha. She teaches yoga, and movement, and mindfulness in an old warehouse with brick walls. I like to lay on the floor in the front row of her classes so I can stare at the clouds while she talks my joints into being flexible. I'm convinced her voice is magic, as I’ve fallen asleep at the end of 90% of her classes. It's easily one of my favorite things. Today is your lucky day, as she has agreed to share a 5 minute guided meditation with you and I, so we don't overwhelm ourselves this holiday season.
Click the link below to hear Marsha calm you down (you may need to bookmark this post for easy access this month!)
----- DOWNLOAD 5 MINUTES OF FREE SANITY! -----
So be nice. Find someone who will listen to you vent. Give your body the nutrients it NEEDS to be happy and anxiety free! Be active. Be mindful. Carry around some headphones so you can replay these 5 mindful minutes from Marsha whenever you need to.
Can we make a pact? Let’s make a pact: I’ll keep my sanity, if you keep yours!
Tweet Tweet: "You might regret losing your cool, but you won't regret being nice to someone."