How to navigate the Holidays with less stress and more grace.

What lies behind us and what lies before us, are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

For many, the Holiday season brings great joy, sharing and togetherness. On the other hand, the season can also bring darker and more difficult moods. The holiday bustles tend to bring up anxiety, stress and overwhelm whether from current obligations, or from conditioned patterns resulting from previous family experiences. If you google “holiday blues” you’ll get countless statistics, survival tools and emotional tips to manage this time of year. How do you navigate the season? I’d love to hear your stories.

Personally, the holidays were a mixed bag of feelings from a young age. My mom’s effort to create a festive time for us kids was often diminished by dad’s lack of interest in any celebrations. Being a kid with a tough exteriors and soft interior, I would pretend it didn’t hurt nor matter that dad didn’t want to participate. That would result in an overcompensation of showing ‘happy’ feelings to mask my angst and need to withdraw.

Fast forward to raising my own kids as a single mom, I often struggled with the holidays for similar reasons. Guess who became the mom that overcompensated to create a happy home while the dad was absent? Thankfully, I was able to work through my old patterns and beliefs and learned to enjoy the holidays with more grace and less anxiety. Every now and again, I experience triggers or memories during the holidays that dampen my mood, but I now have tools to keep me balanced and grounded.

You see, our experience of something (in my case: holidays, absent father) leads to feelings about it (uncertainty, anxiety). The feelings then become what we believe about the experience- and ourselves (I don’t matter, have little value). That belief turns into our expectations of our reality/ life (perform, over-compensate or I’m all alone). We then have another experience that reinforces our feelings, which strengthens the belief, which supports the expectation (outcome)… It’s a pattern that may show up in other areas of life and can be difficult to break, however, it’s possible! Here’s how:

  • Be here now. Triggers are rooted in past events. Bringing yourself into the present moment will lessen the emotional reaction and help you respond to what is happening now. The shortest path to Now is breathing…So, breathe often.

  • Ask: What am I aware of now? This question has helped me in a variety of situations. Bringing your focus to your senses-what you see, hear, feel, smell, taste-will distract your analyzing mind and bring you what is here now.

  • Ask: What am I experiencing now? Another question that brings awareness to whether your feelings are in the present or in the past. If you’re triggered…breathe.

  • Set intentions. Considering your desired outcome will help you manage expectations, both your own and other people’s. Life is less likely to “happen to you”, instead empowers you to take responsibility and create the life you desire. NLP calls this outcome thinking. What do you envision your life experiences to feel like, what beliefs about yourself support your life, and what are your desired outcomes?

How can you relate to being stuck in patterns? I would love to hear from you! And if you practice some of the tips above, let me know how it goes.

To Wholeness…Cheers!