How to thrive during family holidays.

Spiritual teacher, Ram Dass said, “If you think you’re enlightened go spend a week with your family.”

In case your family gatherings aren’t always a scene from a Hallmark Holiday Movie ~Here are 7 tips to thrive this holiday season.

1. Accept what you can’t control. The weather, lost luggage, delays, Aunt Maureen’s conspiracy theories, or Cousin
Dean’s lactose intolerance. Accept that most things are out of your control and focus on what you can control.

2. Have a Plan.
What are the things you do each day that set you up to feel good – getting good sleep, some time alone, a long walk, working out? So often, we drop all our good habits when we’re on holiday and then wonder why we aren’t our best selves. Plan times to do the things that make you feel good about yourself. This will help regulate your nervous system so you’re less reactive to what you can’t control.

If you remember that certain things or people trigger you, have a plan for what you’ll do if that happens – call a friend, go to the bathroom and do breathing exercises, get outside. Make your well-being a priority.

3. Make a daily commitment to yourself.
The simpler you make your commitments, the more likely you are to keep them. What is the ONE THING you can commit to doing EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  Some simple practice that doesn’t take too long, but helps you feel good. Commit to doing that every single day. Prioritize it. Congratulate yourself each night for doing it. 

4. Remember how you want to be, and set an intention every day to be that way.
Each morning take 60 – 90 seconds to state how you want to be today and then picture going through your day in this state. Set the intention to be that way. And remember, you won’t be that way consistently. Like meditation – you don’t stay focused – you keep returning to focus. So you won’t stay in that ideal state every minute, you’ll keep returning to it.

5. Journal this each night:

  • How you fulfilled your intention, or what you’ll do differently tomorrow. Look for one time you fulfilled your intention today. Your mind will automatically look for all the ways you failed. That is not helpful. Search for the time or times you did fulfill it. Write about it. Notice how that feels to relive it.  And only after doing that, make note of any lessons from today that will help you be even more successful tomorrow.
  • Three good things that happened today. Write each one down and after writing, take a moment to remember it, feel it again. Then write the next one. It can be the smallest things – a tasty cup of coffee, a laugh, or even a good poop 🙂  Your mind will naturally replay anything that went wrong, and that can put you into a funk that makes it harder to remember all the things that went right.  Don’t make a long list. Keep it to just three. But as you write each one, be sure to feel it again. 

6. Consider everything others are doing to be either “Love or a Cry for Love”.
A friend of mine taught me this practice years ago, and it’s so helpful in challenging situations. Any time someone is not at their best, consider their behavior to be a cry for love. It doesn’t mean you have to rush in and provide the love. Just seeing their actions that way, can make the whole experience easier for you.

And if you find yourself “behaving badly”, give yourself that same compassion – your less than perfect words or actions were a cry for love, and maybe they just came out wrong.

7. Find ways to feel safe. 
This is most important and often overlooked. When I say there’s little you can control, I’m including your own behavior. Your neural circuits are always sensing whether your environment, or the people in it, are safe or dangerous. This is called Neuroception and the problem is – you’re not aware this is happening. It could be a distant sound, a color, someone’s tone of voice, facial expression, or just their presence – any of these can be picked by your nervous system as dangerous, depending on your childhood experiences and past conditioning. Even though you’re not aware it’s happening, when your nervous system senses a threat it readies you to act. You’re no longer in a creative, compassionate, or engaging state. Little things can suddenly set you off and you erupt or shut down. That can explain why you seem to “regress” when you go home.

When your environment feels safe, your nervous system relaxes and you can engage and enjoy. Find the places, sounds, and people that make you feel safe. And access them often. (See #1 – Have a plan)

Helping you live a life you love,

Please share this with people you know and love, so we can all bring out the best in ourselves and each other over the holidays.

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