Holidays can be joyful, and they can also be stressful. If you don’t get along with some family members, you may feel anxious about holiday gatherings and dread possible confrontations. You may end up spinning negative scenarios in your mind long before the meeting, causing more stress and anxiety. Here are a few tips to make your holidays more enjoyable and peaceful.
1. Remember that hot buttons and triggers are always present, but reactions are optional. You can’t control what other people say or do. You power lies in the choices you make and the paths you take. Stop spinning negative scripts in your head. Whenever you catch yourself thinking negatively, you can mentally adjust and rehearse your own scripts for difficult conversations. Doing so will engage two brain-boosting mechanisms: play and mental rehearsal. Play silences your inner critic and helps you generate more creative ideas. Mental rehearsal programs your brain to act in accordance with your set expectations. Picture yourself responding in a calm and composed manner.
2. Mind your body language to handle your head. Notice how you may appear to others. Check your posture. Stand tall or sit upright. Studies show posture affects people’s confidence in their own thinking. Confident body posture makes you feel more self-assured and projects your confidence to others.
3. There is no safety in withering, but there is a reward in sizzling. Choose to show up fully in your life and your relationships. Life is full of contrast. There is no “hot” without “cold.” The balance of sweet and sour gives flavor to our food. We can’t feel joy unless we know sadness. Contrast keeps the current of life flowing, forcing us to change, adapt, move forward. Embrace all your emotions and trust your inner core to withstand the storms. Speak and act from the heart, with empathy and respect, but allow others to feel what they need to feel. When we doubt our ability to cope with feelings, we deny ourselves the richness and fullness of life. The surprise of a genuine human connection is much more precious than the safety of posturing.
4. Sugarcoating issues won’t solve them, but it will make them sticky. If you feel that there is a potential for misunderstanding or conflict, find a good place and time to discuss things in private and clear up any miscommunication. Our brains are quick to ascribe bad intent to others when they do something wrong, although we tend to exculpate ourselves in similar situations. These quirks of perception can fuel conflict if they go unchecked.
5. Building up people is much more fun than tearing them down. There is no point in resisting people for who they are, but there is a benefit to fully accepting who you are. If you want to be accepted and appreciated, practice accepting and appreciating others. Instead of looking for flaws, find qualities in others to celebrate. Complement people on what they do well.
6. Fill your holidays with passion, not perfection. Passions fuel joy, perfection fuels stress. Emotions are contagious. Fill your heart with excitement, your belly with laughter and your mind with good thoughts, and spread happiness around. You positive energy can light up the room better than any chandelier.