Want to have a peaceful holiday?
1. Don’t have unrealistic expectations
This year might not be the same as the years before. Some people you love might not be around anymore. Some of the rituals and routines you used to have might no longer be applicable. The holiday could be full of tension, stress and loneliness that you didn’t expect. Adjust the expectations you have of yourself and others.
2. Talk about the important stuff before you go away
Don't assume that you have the same expectations and way of being as the people around you. Unmet needs can easily lead to resentment or blow-outs. Discuss financial or other contributions, chores, activities, alone time vs together time, expectations around meals. Who cooks? Who cleans? What kind of activities do you love or hate? How many unexpected house guests are tolerated?
3. Have compassion
The world is in turmoil and constant changes and uncertainty have people more stressed than usual. Everyone needs a safe space to just be raw and real. Have compassion for your own emotions and the behaviour of others. Sometimes it is more important to be kind, than to be right.
4. Don’t get into futile arguments
Arguments where you know you have little chance of changing someone’s mind seldom lead to better understanding unless people are really willing to engage with a different point of view. Many people are prickly with themselves, their circumstances or others at this stage, you, your family and friends, don’t have to be.
5. Stay in your lane and stay out of triangulation
If it is not your issue or your place to get involved, don't. If the indignation is not yours to hold, don't carry it on behalf of someone else. Encourage people to speak to each other and not through you.
6. Is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?
If you have nothing nice or kind to say, keep quiet. There is power in knowing when to keep quiet and when to speak up.
7. Manage your own emotions
It's been a long year. People have used most of their emotional resilience and outbursts are close to the surface. Contain situations by managing your own emotions. Don't blow, unless it is important enough to still matter in a year's time.
8. Have clear boundaries
Don't agree to things you know are going to make you feel resentful, anxious, used or abused. Be clear in your communication, be clear in your requests. "No" is a complete sentence. "Please" and "Thank you" the basics of respectful interaction.
9. Leave the past behind, let sleeping dogs lie
Don’t drag up old hurts and old slights and topics you know lead to friction and frayed relations. What happened during the holidays of 1972 can stay there.
10. Take responsibility for your own activities and entertainment
If being with, or without, people become too much, listen to good music. Play a game. Read a book. Go for a walk. Call a friend. Learn how to make a new cocktail. Watch another Netflix movie.
11. When triggered focus on the things that regulate your nervous system
Interactions aren't always easy. When something happens and you go into fight, flight, freeze or fawn mode; what brings you back to calm? Nature, music, laughter, beauty, flowers, connecting with friends and family, exercise, time out on your own? Do this regularly to stay centred.
12. Be flexible, let go of control
Plans change quickly for various reasons. Don’t be rigid and frustrated. Allow for space to flow and things to show up and fall into place without pushing, pulling and recriminations. Stop trying to control people or circumstances. Does it really matter if potatoes are cut in cubes or slices?
13. Laugh as often as you can
Joy and humour are great connectors and stress relievers. Finding the humour in situations will make it much easier on yourself and those around you. Remember to laugh at yourself as well.
14. Connect on a deeper level
Ask people how they really feel. Ask what matters to them and what they care about. What was their most significant learning in the past year? What was their best moment? The deeper we connect, the more authentic we are in our interactions, the closer we become.
15. Remind yourself of why you are there
Wether you are away with friends or at home for family Xmas lunch. When emotions and interactions get gnarly, remind yourself why you are there or doing what you are doing. To make your mother happy? Because you wanted a break? To spend some time to reconnect with the people you care about? Take responsibility for your decision. If it is joyous - celebrate, if it is tedious - this too shall pass.