The holiday season is here! That means that family and friends come together to celebrate the passing milestones of the year. From pumpkin patches to trick-or-treating to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year, we are surrounded by loved ones from near and far. The holidays can be warm and cozy, just as triggering and upsetting. Some families face higher stress levels because everyone is coming together. You may have to face that sibling you had a big fight with, that aunt whose birthday you forgot, or those long-held issues with your mom (or mother-in-law). Here is an article that helps you check in and takes responsibility for yourself during this holiday season.
Let’s get started by discussing boundaries. Boundaries are rules set in place to protect you; they protect you from overworking, over-sharing, over-loving, and much more. Take time to reflect on the boundaries you previously established and how well they are or aren’t working. Also, reflect on where you may need stronger boundaries; in what ways have you failed to stand up for yourself? Boundaries can look like having the ability to say “no.” During the holiday season, it is common for individuals and families to receive lots of invitations. It may be overwhelming and exhausting for some people to attend so many events, gatherings, and parties and have to meet so many expectations on top of the load they already have. Therefore, practice checking in with yourself and practicing saying “no” when you mean NO.
Another area to explore is self-care. How well have you been managing your stress levels? How long do you usually wait before you let off steam? Generally, we want to have fun and be jovial during the holiday season. So, consider the stressors you need to process, manage, or let go of. If you are coming through an especially tough time, you may not be in the mood to interact with activities and loved ones. Be sure you take time to breathe, recollect, and put your best foot forward. Just as you checked in with how well you have cared for yourself, consider how well you have managed for others. Have you been overly critical lately? Do you usually give others a difficult time compromising? Are you usually the last one to apologize? Consider ways in which you can treat yourself and others better.
Now comes the hard part, addressing problematic behaviors. Sometimes, people avoid the holiday season because of idiosyncrasies or inappropriate behaviors in the family. A person would rather avoid the gathering as a whole, so they won’t have to tolerate annoyances or cause conflict. However, failing to address the issue is a powerful method of harming relationships. Relationships are built through communication, compromise, and trust. So, if you harbor all of your thoughts and feelings to yourself, you rob others of the opportunity to contribute to the relationship. Seek a therapist or a trusted friend to role-play addressing complicated problems, or you can journal on what needs to be addressed and the best way of doing so. Ensure that you are identifying a specific behavior and not attacking the character or personality of the person.