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Controlling the Holidays

What’s in your control and how can you care for yourself in the holiday season?

A topic that comes up frequently around this time of year is how to manage stress and make decisions that help decrease stress.

The holiday season gets a reputation of being all about the “hustle and bustle” and calendars scheduled to the brim.

Some of the things on your calendar may not be things that you can cross off. And let’s be real: Some things in this season may produce stress. That’s often just the reality of it.

But maybe there are some conscious choices you can make that can help this year feel different.

I don’t know about you, but it would be nice to feel more present and more like myself and soak up memories this holiday season.

So how can you do that?

A helpful equation as I share some tips today is

stress = expectations - capacity - resources


Capacity helps us recognize our limits. Capacity is how much we can hold/are able to do. One of the most helpful things that we can be aware of when it comes to capacity is being honest with ourselves about the life stage/season we are currently living in.

How can you increase capacity?

  1. Being mindful

  2. Practicing grounding

  3. Taking care of yourself

  4. Engaging in activities that bring you life or speaking up for some activities that you may want to include in holiday plans. For example, if you don’t enjoy large parties or gatherings, be mindful that your entire holiday season is not over scheduled with those types of gatherings. Or at a family gathering, could you practice speaking up about things that sound enjoyable to you? This could be as small as requesting that you play games that are less complicated/faster versus committing to the six-hour strategy game that is life-sucking for you.

  5. Growing self-awareness: know your triggers, know how to care for self

What resources can be leaned on?

  1. How you care for yourself: Being mindful to take care of yourself, even in settings that are outside of your norm. For example, trying to get as much sleep as you can, starting your morning well, being mindful to have food on hand, or taking a sip of water.

  2. Your own choices: Keeping in mind that you do have control over how you respond to uncomfortable situations. You can stay quiet during such a topic or step away if you need to. “Name it to tame it, feel it to heal it, and let it be to let it go.”

Are there any expectations that you can pivot or set?

  1. Check in with your expectations for an event. Name some of the realities of the situation you are stepping into. Identify and explore areas where you could practice increasing your flexibility or recognize situations where boundaries and self-care are going to be important.

  2. Be realistic with yourself and your family about what you are able to do. For example, I have learned in the last 18 months of being a parent that I need to be real honest about what my kid can handle and doing my best to not overstretch his limit. He models to me what it looks like when we are hungry or overtired, and I can tell you from experience he is more enjoyable when he is not overtired. So, our family may need to set the expectation that we are going to prioritize nap time during our days or not overstretching bedtime.

Hopefully taking just a few minutes to pause and consider each of these categories around capacity, resources, and expectations can have a powerful impact on how you experience this holiday season.

If you would like more resources or to talk out any of these concepts with a professional, our team would love to connect!

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