During the holidays, emotional fitness is especially important! Some people think of holiday season as of time of joy, family and togetherness. They’re a lucky bunch, and bless them! However, most people do dread one or the other aspect of about their holiday schedule, gift shopping, entertaining and spending time with their family. And for some people, the last one can be especially overwhelming.
Families are the source of love, protection and learning that carries us through our child hood, but – because parents are only people with faults and weaknesses – families are also often a source of pain, conflict and unresolved relationships. Unwanted emotions arise when you go back home, and your sister uses that specific tone of voice with you or you get ignored over dinner again. Examples are infinite…
That’s why you might need to work on your emotional fitness before you head out so that you can face all of your fears with confidence.
Practice Your Emotional Fitness Before You Go
Firstly, focus on your feelings about going back home. Acknowledge your emotions and label them. Connect those emotions to your experiences. Think of all the positive things that your visit home brings. Whether it’s seeing your parents and siblings, dinners with cousins, a chance to party with childhood friends, be grateful for those positive aspects of your trip back home.
Build a Strategy of Coping with Your Emotions
Make a plan on working on your feelings while visiting home. Practice regulating your emotions. They have a huge potential for helping you interact with the people around you. Learn how your emotions can impact others and how to respond to their feelings as well. Practice breathing and/or relaxation techniques. This will help you cope better with potential stressful situations during the family gatherings for the holidays.
Try Not to React on Triggers
We all love our families. Nevertheless, some unresolved patterns from our childhood may re-arise when we see them after a long time. And you may struggle trying to solve them once re-united with your family. Triggers like holiday stress, toxic relatives/relationships and unhappy memories from your childhood may weaken your coping skills during the holiday season.
The holiday season is time of increased stress for many people. Numerous errands, organization and gift shopping together with your weakened immune system due to the winter season make it hard to cope with holidays. By the time for the family gatherings, you may feel exhausted and vulnerable. Holiday stress may trigger incapability to cope with your family, so try to remember that the holidays are also a time for relaxation, joy and leisure.
Stay organized and take care of yourself. Practice relaxation and light exercises. Spend some evenings alone at home (or in your childhood bedroom!) doing things that you enjoy, like reading a book or watching a movie. Make sure you stick to a healthy diet despite all the temptations, and get enough sleep during the holidays.
Try not to respond to toxic cousins that you successfully avoid the rest of the year. Do not engage in endless conversations and minimize answering their questions about your life if those make you upset. Share as much as you feel comfortable with. They don’t need to know about why you’re single or that you plan to change jobs!
Dysfunctional family patterns may re-appear once you and your family get together. Use your self-management and social skills to scale down the conflicts that may arise and set aside the differences. With emotional fitness strategies in mind, try to accept your family members and relatives as they are.
Other people most likely feel stressed about the holidays too. Therefore, try to recognize and understand your family members’ feelings and acknowledge them. Stay open for conversation and communicate your feelings and needs in an assertive way. Maybe YOU have a tone of voice that upsets them too, during discussions.
Staying emotionally fit will make your holiday season joyful and your body and mind fulfilled. Even at your parents’ home!