As the title states sometimes we need to lower our expectations when interacting with family over the holidays. Even if you really love your family they push your buttons from time to time (because they put them there!), which can be really irritating or enraging! Just remember this is totally normal, most people find the holidays challenging even if they don’t realize it.
Some studies have found that heart attacks spike during the holidays, especially on Christmas day and New Years. Weird! Well maybe not so weird. We have all been in these stressful situations, start with being trapped in the house because of cold weather and less sunlight. Then add in some sugar, alcohol, decades old resentments, and a total upheaval of comforting routines. What you’re probably going to come out with is some level of anxiety, really getting the heart pumping. Or like my dad says around the holidays, “You're giving me palpitations!” Oh, Marty…
So what do we do? Here are some easy ways to quiet those palpitations and maybe even enjoy some of your time with the ole’ fam.
1.Set up a routine or continue one you already have: If you are traveling for the holidays make a point to do something that brings you back to you in the morning or evening. Some examples can be taking a quick run in the morning, doing 5 minutes of meditation when you wake up before you engage with anybody, read something inspiring upon awakening, write in your journal every night, call a friend from home and check in everyday. If you are not traveling and family is nearby then keep some part of your routine that feels good to you, this can be very grounding when situations get stressful.
2.Go for a walk: This is a really good one. Walking is effective in moving stuck energy that comes up with family. There may be age-old resentments just under the surface and moving your body will help you to give that energy somewhere to flow rather than towards the object of your anger.
3.Be of service to your family: When you start to get really activated turn it on its head and see if you can help out in some way. An act of selflessness can be just that thing to stir up stagnant habits that keep us stuck. Volunteer to wash the dishes, ask if you can help your host in any way, offer to get someone a beverage or piece of pie. Think how you can get out of yourself and see the world from a different perspective.
4.Ask others how they are doing: Really take an interest in others around you. See what makes them happy. See how they might be different than how you have always seen them. Often our ideas about people are laden with old stories that no longer serve them or us.
5.Listen to this song: This song has actually been called the “most relaxing song ever created.” It’s so effective at inducing sleep there is a warning to not listen to it while driving. This is a great piece of music to listen to which will regulate your nervous system and keep you grounded in you!
It slows your breathing and reduces brain activity to such an extent that Weightless, written by Manchester band Marconi Union, is said to be the 'most relaxing song ever'. The eight-minute track is so effective at inducing sleep, motorists have now been warned they should not listen to it whilst driving.
Here is an interesting article about this song and the research done with it: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2049948/Most-relaxing-song-UK-band-Boffins.html
Good luck out there! Remember that sometimes just surviving is good enough!
Karolina Walsh Psychotherapy
Providing psychotherapy, counseling, and support for grief, addictions, trauma, PTSD, relationship issues, and GLBTQIA.
“Karolina walks her talk, her ability to meet another in their capacities is sensational because she has done her own work” -Diane Israel
"An effective therapist needs to do at least two things: be compassionate and provide constructive feedback that actually changes the way people experience the world. I see many therapists who can do one or the other. I routinely watch Karolina do both..." -Patrick Weeg