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  • Sophia P

Home for the holidays

The holidays evoke a wide range of feelings – joy, nostalgia, sadness, stress – to name a few. I had a conversation recently with a friend who feels extremely stressed each year around Thanksgiving and Christmas between the expectations of her in-laws, her own family and pressures from work.

I wished that there was a way to help her and many others enjoy the festivities and the joyful part of the holiday season and reduce some of the negative feelings. Some tips that I have learned over the years:

1) Maintain your own routines

One bit of advice that I shared with her, as a way to carve out some space for herself, was to maintain some of her routines even when traveling, especially those that contribute towards self-care and allowing for solitude and quiet amidst the activity and crowds.

People tend to respect the time and space you carve out for your daily meditation, prayer, yoga, running, fill-in the blank, and it gives you much needed time to collect yourself or reflect. This is admittedly not easy to do, especially if you want to be accommodating to others' schedules or even just feel like it's hard to get into the right headspace, but it pays off immensely and people get used to your routine. It's a bit like training the people around you as much as you train yourself!

2) Prepare for tough conversations

Mentally preparing for tough conversations about your personal life, politics or any other potentially sensitive issues is also something I've found helpful. I also like to have different levels of responses prepared depending on my relationship with the person. For example, my sister will get what I like to call "the real real", whereas some of the aunties whom I care for dearly and are well intentioned but often a little judgmental may get the generic response. Humor is also a useful deflector or diffuser as needed.

3) Enjoy the togetherness

We may argue and get on each others' nerves at times, but family whether biological or chosen are the best gift you can ever receive. Often, it's not so much what we say or do when we get together, but the fact that we're all together and just in each other's company that makes the holidays special. One tradition our family has done for the past few years is to take the opportunity to take the annual family photo and to have fun with it. Recent themes include, plaid flannel shirts, silly hats, animal onesies and the 80s. (Now I feel like I have to post at least one of these.)

80s themed family photo
80s themed family photo

I hope that everyone has a memorable and soul recharging holiday season.

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