Self Care for Holiday Tension

The holidays bring wonderful things such as food, relaxation, family. For some, the whole family and relaxation thing don't really go together. While many dread seeing certain family members, it seems the dread increased in the past few years with tension from the election. Rather than sitting around a table enjoying turkey and wine, some of us have to sit around our table, clenching their fists, trying not to react to family members with opposing--even derogatory--views.

Instead of looking forward to a break from work, some of us may notice it feels more exhausting to face relatives. Facing relatives we aren't thrilled about seeing may drum up feelings from the recent election or negative feelings from childhood. Some of us may notice though we are well in to our 20's and 30's, when we face our parents we go back to being the angsty teen that sat on their couch watching "The O.C." 

It's important to recognize the feelings we feel when we think about the holidays. Do you notice your body tense when you think about holiday travel? When you run through the list of family attending gatherings, does anyone cause your face to tighten? When we bring these thoughts and feelings in to our awareness, it is easier to get through them when they come up in real time. Time off from work and school should be a well deserved break, not a chore. It should be a time to recharge and relieve uncomfortable feelings rather than further drumming them up.

Once you begin to notice negative feelings and stress coming up surrounding the holidays, it's time to check in with yourself on how to counteract that negativity. Here are 6 quick self care tips to get you through holiday tension.

1. Carve Out a Safe Space

Ideally this is a real place you can go to wherever you're spending the holidays. Perhaps this is the guest room you'll be staying in or a special spot outdoors. If you don't have your own space, the bathroom farthest away from where people are gathering is always a safe bet. I encourage you to also think of an imaginary safe place such as the beach, so if you need to tune out that one uncle that won't shut up about politics, you'll have a place to drift off to.

2. Don't Make Grand Plans

It's okay to spend your vacation reading a book for pleasure, but don't set yourself up for failure. Giving yourself a vacation task can make the vacation feel less relaxing and if you don't finished those five books you planned to read you may feel a sense of dissappointment at the end of vacation. It's okay to set zero expectations besides relaxation. Some of us thrive on goals and have a hard time sitting still, if you know this about yourself, just sitting still could be a big achievement.

3. Excuse Yourself

If a conversation is making you uncomfortable, excuse yourself from the table. It's important to be kind to ourselves during the holiday season. When the news has been especially upsetting and family members talk about triggering subjects, sometimes the best thing you can do is leave--at least for a little while.

4. Conserve Your Energy

Whether you're an introvert or extravert, being around a lot of people takes energy. This is especially true of people you may not see all the time. Notice when your energy is drained. Notice who or what lead to your energy being drained and have on hand what you need to re-charge.

5. Eat Mindfully

This is certainly not to say you should worry about what you eat during the holidays, but food has the power to transform your mood. Food is another factor that can drain or give us energy. It's important to pay attention to how food makes us feel. Eat what you love, but make sure it makes you feel good and energized rather than slow and sluggish. Food that makes us sleepy can drain our energy and make us cranky(er) toward family members. 

6. Embrace the Chaos

You can embrace it, or you can drown in it. It's up to you!