With the holidays quickly approaching, you may find yourself slipping into old habits to create comfort. Even though this season presents new challenges in celebrating, there are ways to seek solace in your life no matter what happens around you. This may be the year you are solo or forego a typical tradition to keep loved ones around you safe.
No matter what, there is potential for a fruitful holiday with these 5 tips.
1. Build Strong Boundaries
While tension and pressure may rise around the holidays, it is important to stay true to yourself. Make yourself a priority by remaining authentic and doing what feels comfortable to you. Unless you feel a strong yes in your body, the answer is a no. If you jeopardize your comfort, health, or safety for a yes, you may have a resentment later. The negative moment of discomfort can lead to positive effects of feeling true to yourself and reducing people pleasing tendencies.
Taking a moment to say no firmly and clearly helps people around you to know where you stand. People will likely respect you far more if you state a clear no at the beginning instead of a yes with resentments. More importantly, you will find that you may respect yourself more.
Boundaries are built to keep you safe. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable while you strengthen them. Make clean requests so that your truth can be heard. If people continuously push, they are not respecting your boundaries. This is more about them than you. You can remind them of where your boundary lays as many times as you need to get your point across. When setting a boundary, try to avoid personalizing reactions from others.
Give yourself a break if you don’t set the boundary perfectly the first time. Tune into your needs to help yourself start the process.
To learn more about boundaries, read here: What Are Boundaries And Why Are They Important? Learn To Set and Keep Boundaries.
2. Savor Small Moments.
This can be especially helpful if you are celebrating a solo holiday but applies if you will have a small celebration with other people too. If you are solo for the holidays this year, it is important to treat yourself with extra care whether it is your first-time or you have done this several times. Build your day around small moments, and relish in them fully to feel gratitude no matter the circumstance.
If you know that you love to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or the Thanksgiving Day football games, prepare your five senses to savor every moment. While you watch; let yourself taste a delicious beverage, look for a favorite float in the parade, feel cozy socks on your feet to keep them warm, smell the takeout or home cooked meal in the works, and listen to the cheers from the crowd.
If you are with others; look for moments to laugh and allow yourself to take a grateful breath before you begin your meal. No matter what you prepare for yourself, stay present. A gentle approach will help you savor small moments most.
3. Check Your Expectations; Communicate Clearly.
If you build up your expectations more than your boundaries this holiday season, chances are you will be disappointed. It is your job to take of yourself while others take care of themselves. If you are expecting people to do something that you haven’t clearly communicated to them, you may have resentments and are setting up yourself and them for hurt and avoidable conflict.
If you love when everyone goes around the table to share their gratitude, let others know that you would like to make space for that. If that doesn’t happen, make space for it within your own celebration. Presume positive intent. If you are waiting for people to call you, instead, call them first.
Expectations can turn into victimhood, so recognize what is important to you and make it happen without bulldozing others. Everyone has something that matters to them, especially during the holidays. Pause and breathe while you let expectations become clear, and act on them when you feel ready. Let yourself be excited and feel joy whether it is with others or alone.
Read more about communicating your needs this holiday season with your person(s) here: To Holiday With Others, Or Not To, That is The Question. Navigating The Holidays With Your Person(s)
4. Create New Traditions.
This holiday season may be the time to readjust and create new joy and experiences. If you normally have a huge dinner or get together with family members from several households, you may have to do things differently this year. Come to a place of acceptance with some of your traditions pausing or changing.
This is a time to explore and have fun with what brings you joy again. Maybe this year you decide that you are tired of the same meal you have always had. Cook a new dish that could be a mainstay next year. Take a walk around the park instead of the 5K that has always been on the to-do list. Stay in your pajamas all day or get extra fancy. Ask yourself what really matters to you this year and breathe into guidance and the possibilities of a new answer.
5. Take a Break from Social Media.
Because it is likely that things won’t feel the same, it is not the season to overstay your welcome on social media. It is easy to start comparing yourself and others’ holidays if you don’t redirect your focus. Notice the pangs of jealousy or wants and wishes, take a breath, and begin a new task.
If you feel uncomfortable viewing how everyone else is celebrating their holiday, you may be robbing yourself of the joy that helps you stay present with your own experience. It’s okay if you take the time to scroll a bit, but discernment is key. If you feel like you are completely absorbed by someone else, it may be beneficial to take action with your celebration.
A few redirections that can happen in the moment include stretching, going outside, breathing, and putting your phone in another room. Notice your feelings to bring you back into present moment and move forward.
Comparison is difficult for anyone, so there is no need to seek it out through social media. If you spend time on social media, it’s okay. Come back to yourself when you are able to do so. You don’t have to dwell on someone else and their happiness; figure out how to make yourself feel joy.
The more energy you put toward others the less room you have for yourself. It’s okay to stick with yourself as much as possible and let go of the rest. You are worth loving.
The holidays can be loaded with expectations and people pleasing, but this can be the year you take a break from that. You can learn what brings you joy and stay in the present moment. Prepare special moments throughout the day to show up for yourself.
There is no one who knows you like you know yourself. Take time to allow yourself to be clear with your wants and needs.
Reflection has been a positive result of this year, and the holidays can be another opportunity to learn. Forge a friendship with yourself because there is no better place to belong than within your own heart.
Denver Metro Counseling is a group of clinicians who provide therapeutic support for teens, adults, parents, and families. We help people build positive relationships with themselves and others.
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