The holiday break 'should' be a joyous time shared with loved ones but sometimes it can also bring up a little anxiety.
All of those people that are most precious in our lives can also trigger us the most. I find every time I have a family gathering we all revert into old habits within the family dynamic.
We all have our so-called place! But the reality is it doesn't have to be the same chaotic, anxiety-filled time if you don't want it to be. Holidays spent with loved ones can be a great opportunity to practice self-awareness, empathy, and gratitude.
Here are my top tips for getting you through and even enjoying the holiday break with family.....
Identify the what, why and how associated with your anxiety.
What is it that makes you anxious about spending time with the family? Is it based around a particular person or the dynamic of people coming together in one confined space? Or maybe you aren't spending time with loved ones, maybe there's been a transition and you're feeling overwhelmed at what the holiday will be like without your loved ones around.
Why does that make you feel anxious?
Use the holiday as practice of self-awareness.
Yes there's something to be learnt from your self-centred aunt or opinionated father in law! At the end of the day no one forces us to feel anything. We subconsciously choose what we feel and how we react and usually that thing that we don't like or hide away from stems from something we are struggling to identify or accept in ourselves.
Gratitude and empathy come from the same place.
So how can you change the situation at hand? Make a gratitude list. Finding 5 things that you’re grateful for in your life before you enter the dynamic helps to centre your energy and change your perspective from tunnel vision of the day at hand, towards the bigger picture.
When we focus on what we have and what is right and good in our lives the negative stuff that causes the anxiety doesn't seem so big anymore. It lightens the spring in our step into any situation and we're less likely to react from that negative place, getting caught up in petty arguments and bickering and observing from a more calm and positive space.
When we're in a positive, grateful space we are more likely to be able to forgive and show empathy and understanding to even the most annoying, triggering person. The negative traits cool, we can place ourselves in their shoes and we can love the person for their being, not for what they have or haven't done in the past.
Connect to the meaning for coming together these holidays. It's all about sharing and offering gratitude for the special people that we’ve lived life with, learnt big lessons and gifts from, and who have been pivotal in forming who we are today.