As a highly sensitive person, I understand the challenges of coping with the holiday season. Shouldn’t this time of year be a time of joy and celebration? It can be if we take control and have a strategy to enjoy the holidays on our own terms. Here are some tips:
This is the time of year when most families come together in peaceful, loving, and supportive ways. However, this is not always the case. If your family is truly abusive, unpleasant, or unhealthy for you, know that you have the choice to decline spending time with them. Avoiding negative forces is critical for the welfare of highly sensitive people, and you should never feel guilty about taking care of yourself!
For many of us, our families are not abusive, but they may be mildly irritating. If so, use this opportunity to practice your coping and communication skills. Don’t argue about politics, religion, or anything else that’s controversial. Keep things positive. Look for the good in others, and go out of your way to pay sincere compliments. You can set the tone by doing your best to not criticize and to accept your family for who they are.
If your family tends to be combative, try to anticipate the conflicts, as they often follow a pattern. That way, you can plan a response in advance, which can help avoid the knee-jerk reactions that often escalate tensions. If you have the same argument again and again, come up with a plan to break the cycle.
Too Much To Do
If you are being pulled in too many different directions, take a moment to slow down. Set your emotions aside, and think of logical things you can do to improve the situation. Perhaps you can plan menus or consider gift ideas ahead of time. For holiday shopping, make lists of items you need to get before heading out to brave the crowds, lol, or order things online. By organizing, prioritizing and grouping tasks together, you can minimize the stress of multiple trips to the grocery store or mall, which will avoid last-minute scrambling.
Give some thought to how, where, and with whom you want to spend your time. Would you like to attend small gatherings or none at all? Gift giving? Some gifts, none at all, or perhaps fewer this year? Would you like to schedule some downtime for yourself?
Whatever you decide, just be sure to honor yourself and your highly sensitive nature. Remember that you have every right to do things that you enjoy and are comfortable with during your holiday break. Be upfront about your desires, and talk things over with those involved, such as a spouse or other family members.
Norman Rockwell and Martha Stewart have irreversibly colored our visions of what the holiday season “should” be, which only sets us up for disappointment.
Don’t try to have a “perfect” holiday. Just shoot for “good enough.” There will always be circumstances beyond your control. If things don’t turn out the way you had hoped, just accept “what is” and enjoy yourself anyway. By keeping expectations realistic and focusing on what’s really important to you, you may just find that your “good enough” holiday turns out to be “pretty great” after all.
You should also keep in mind that there’s no need to go crazy trying to find the absolute “perfect” gift for everyone on your list. While it’s always nice to get thoughtful gifts for people, you don’t want to take all the fun out of gift giving by over-thinking every purchase. It’s also helps if you can limit your spending to a budget that’s comfortable for you (regardless of what anyone else is spending).
Holiday Traffic and Crowds
I hate traffic and battling for parking spaces at the mall! I try to avoid it if I can at any time of the year. If you absolutely need to, it’s good to just laugh. The traffic, crowds, and interminably long lines are, unfortunately, as much a part of the season as cranberry sauce and candy canes. But instead of frustration or anger, try humor, kindness, and mindfulness. If you’re stuck in traffic, use the time to call an old friend and catch up. Or perhaps you can listen to a funny podcast or a great audiobook. If you’re waiting in line, strike up a conversation with someone else waiting. If the crowds are rattling your nerves, take the opportunity to notice the sights and sounds around you. Take deep breaths and try to relax, accept that this is an inevitable part of the season but only a temporary inconvenience.
Can you think of any other tips to cope with the holidays? I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have. I’ll be posting more tips on Wednesday, December 11th.
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