I like to call this the season of OY and JOY! It’s a way to embrace my Jewish roots and acknowledge that the holidays are mix of all types of emotions, and all of it is welcome. As I shared in my 5 Tips to Mindfully Manage Holiday Stress, this is an exciting time of year. It can also be an overwhelming time of year where we can easily be triggered. Despite the personal, spiritual, or mindful work we have done, it can feel like we are regressing big time. Ok, I may be projecting:-) So knowing this is my pattern, I’m sharing the five holiday triggers I notice with myself and my clients and some ways to mindfully meet them. After all, awareness is key, so if we can be aware of when we are being triggered, we can meet the person or circumstance in a more responsive, compassionate and kind way.
Trigger #1: Family Dynamics
Let go of perfection and unrealistic expectations. Recognizing we can’t necessarily change others, try embracing where everyone is and recognize the shared compassion that we all want to be happy, loved, and are doing the best we can.
- Focus on connection – Looking people in the eye, finding something you appreciate or have a shared belief in.
- Be Respectful – Even if someone has a different viewpoint, practice listening mindfully. Take a breath before responding (vs. reacting)
- Embrace change – As families change and grow, traditions will as well. Choose a few traditions to hold onto and be open to creating new ones.
- Practice compassion – For yourself and others. We are all doing the best we consciously know how in any given moment. Let go of trying to fix each other.
Trigger #2: Time Management
Make a “TO BE” list – a list of nourishing activities that you can intersperse while completing your to do list. By taking care of yourself, you’ll be more productive and likely to enjoy the tasks that need to get done.
- Take a walk
- Drink water
- Enjoy a cup of tea
- Take a bath or shower
- Spend time with friends and family (invite them to join you)
Trigger #3: Gift Giving
Identify how you want to “feel” giving the gift and shop from that place (joy, fulfillment, thoughtfulness, etc).
- Gift with purpose – Identify socially responsible businesses that give back. The Little Market and any B Corp are my favorites.
- Get crafty – DIY and cooking your gifts flexes our creativity capacity and ability to be present. If you follow me on Instagram, you know my recent bread/challah baking obsession. It’s a way to both ground me and share something I love with others.
- Shop socially – Make it an event with friends to increase social connectedness.
- Give the gift of giving – Consider donating to a local charity or organization that aligns with your values in the name of a person.
Trigger #4: Losing Sight of Meaning
REMOVE SHOULD. Let this year’s reflection be a unique and true expression of your true holiday spirit, not simply an obligation to get through. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Remember what the holidays are about and try to experience through a child’s eyes or better yet, see everyone as that inner child experiencing the holidays for the first time. Discover the magic and remember the themes of the holiday season.
- Peace on earth
- Making time for others
- Santa clause/Hanukkah Harry
- Giving and receiving
Trigger #5: Holiday Blues
It’s natural to miss friends and family who have passed or to focus on what we don’t have. Simply honor that without trying to change or fix it. Practice self-compassion.
- OptionB.org is a great resource offering tangible ways to cope through the holidays if you are dealing with a loss. Based on the book Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant (which I highly recommend), the website is dedicated to helping you build resilience in the face of adversity—and giving you the tools to help your family, friends, and community build resilience too.
- Seek out community events, including religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship.
- Volunteering your time to help others. It’s also a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.