How to Really Have Happy Holidays!

Mmmmmm, the holidays!  Time to relax, enjoy good food, and the sweet company of family and friends. All the festivities (and high carb food) can help us get through the dark, cold months of winter. Yet sometimes the holidays can be stressful.

We have more social engagements (all those holiday parties and events), and preparations for the holidays—shopping, cooking, and decorating. And those we’re often hanging out with can sometimes be the most challenging people in our lives, be they immediate family members or in-laws, or the boss at the holiday party.

The holidays can be easier and actually fun, even in challenging situations. Here are a few bonus tips based on NVC and coaching practices.

  • Check-in with yourself. I know it’s counter-intuitive, and the busier and more overwhelmed you are, the more helpful it is to take a moment to see how you’re doing “under the hood.”  Choose an activity you do several times during the day—each you drink or eat something, or brush your teeth, for example, to help you remember. For your 30 second check-in, just ask yourself, “How I am feeling right now? What needs are up for me?” and see, based on your feelings and needs, if any requests come up, for yourself or another. (You can download lists of Feelings and Needs, and other resources, here).
  • Set your intention. When going into a situation that may be challenging or that you’re feeling anxious about, take a moment beforehand to connect with your intention. What needs would you like to see met in the interaction? Are you wanting harmony, ease, mutuality, choice, or to be heard? Holding awareness of your chosen need/intention both before and during the interaction can be helpful in grounding you and steering your course—in words and actions. While different needs may be up for you, choose the one that most resonates with you. Then sit with any requests that come up for you, for yourself, to support that need/intention being met.
  • Pace your conversations. If you notice another person is becoming tense, you may want to let them know what you’re hearing them say (“recapping” their words). One of the most basic human needs is to be heard. By recapping, you can let the person know that you have heard what they’re saying, at least on a content level and even if you don’t agree with their perspective.
  • Take time out. If you notice yourself getting stressed, take a moment to step out for some fresh air or into another room.  A change of environment can give more space and perspective, and a moment to self-connect and re-group. If you don’t see an easy way to step out of the situation for a break, take a moment to ground yourself. Notice your feet on the floor. Or take three deep breaths (for some reason, somatic coaches say, three is the magic number!).
  • Focus on the present moment. Often when we’re triggered, it’s because we’re “globalizing” in some way…we’ve had a similar experience with the person before, and maybe already addressed it, and now it’s happening again! Ugh. Frustrating, and tiring! In those moments, it’s easy to generalize…”He never listens!” or “She’s impossible.” Instead, see if you can focus on the actual event, at that moment, and remove the story: “OK, I started talking and hadn’t finished, and he started talking…” Also, imagine it’s the very first time it happened.  While this may not address the underlying issues, it can go a long way to fostering harmony and greater ease in the present moment and give perspective.

Wishing you harmony, ease, and joy for the holidays this week!

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