Your Pocket Cheat Sheet to help Reduce Holiday Stress

Please raise your hand if you’ve ever felt put off by a relative during the holidays. Put both hands in the air and shout “hell yeah” if it makes you feel better.

Much as we anticipate the holiday season, let’s face it. When you walk in the door and your sister asks for the hundredth time why don’t you ever wear make-up, it makes you look sooo much younger, it’s been known to put a damper on holiday cheer.

This year, some of us in the U.S. also stare into an undeniable divide of how we voted in the Presidential election. Turns out, it is increasingly personal and difficult for many among us to face, with grace, the reality that some family and friends voted in this election in a way that doesn’t align with deeply held values.

Worrying about how to keep from losing it—our decorum, our sense of self—in close quarters, in the company of difficult relatives, takes up more than its fair share of headspace and energy.

Well, there’s good news: Being in the company of relatives doesn’t have to be so daunting. With the right tool at your disposal – let’s call it Your Hip-Pocket Cheat Sheet, you can manage your level of engagement with relatives anew –without losing your autonomy, integrity or temper.

The first step is to acknowledge how you tend to show up around relatives.

What’s Your Reflexive Response Style?

You try to please everyone. At your own expense, you try to make nice with everyone, regardless of the effect on you.

You become reactive. You get sucked into someone else’s narrative and get resentful or angry.

You retreat. You feel powerless to show up as yourself in their company.

You deny what is happening. Sometimes, to admit the state of discomfort or dysfunction feels too painful to acknowledge.

You’re determined to change others. This time you will make them see your point or behave differently.

How’s your reflexive response working for you? What would it be like to choose a modified response instead?

The next step is to choose if you would rather struggle through, endure the way it’s been, or use awareness to create some positive changes.

Your Hip Pocket Cheat Sheet to Reduce Holiday Stress

reduce holiday stress

It helps to bear in mind that relationships develop over time, change is a process, and taking a small step is better than taking no step to improve a relationship or situation.

Here are some simple, powerful tips that will help you to be yourself and be with them over the holidays.

ONE. Be honest.

Uncle Lou pushes your buttons. Don’t push it down or away. Don’t cling too tightly or take on his issue as your own. What he says reflects more about him than it does about you.

TWO. Set a positive intention in advance of your time together.

Something like I will know and spread peace. Or I will create a safe space for love to flourish. Connecting with a positive intention helps open new paths of engagement.

THREE. Acceptance.

There is no perfect family, no matter how other families look from the outside. Allow for what is, rather than expecting an ideal that cannot be.

FOUR. Gratitude.

Even though someone drives you crazy, chances are there is still something to be grateful for about that person. They raised your spouse or partner, love your children, brought a homemade apple pie for the family to enjoy. Find the kernel of gratitude and let it expand.

FIVE. Compassion and Forgiveness.

The way forward is love, not like. How can you see those around the holiday table through a filter of love? Forgiving imperfections in someone else helps you hold onto yours less tightly.

SIX. Small Steps.

What small step can you take to change things up? Maybe you limit time inside and step outside for some air, change (or make off-limits) an offensive line of conversation, get curious, relax with a glass of wine, or something else –in the presence of difficult relatives.

SEVEN. Give and Receive.

Giving is important but it’s not all about giving to others. Give yourself what you need to feel nourished and go into the situation feeling grounded. Allow yourself to receive.

So, now you have it—7 ways to infuse your holiday spirit with more joy and peace. And, hey, what do you know? These tips work any time of year, so keep them in your hip pocket.

How will you empower yourself with difficult people and circumstances over the holidays? Tell us in the blog comments and on the Facebook Page so we can learn from one another.