Visiting the family for the holidays can be stressful. During a visit, it’s likely that things will get a little stressful. Maybe someone will get irritated and perhaps even a little angry. It’s an actual skill we’ve acquired as humans to decipher exactly where to push another’s buttons. Our family has the secret map to those buttons! From the view of Unconditional Love, it’s lovely that another human knows those details about us. We think, geez… “I can’t believe they said that”, or “but we’re family.” “We’re supposed to get along!” Not the case. It’s easier to give up that fantasy now and implement a strategy to keep your mind calm, your heart open, and the love flowing.
I love my family, and I love spending time with them, BUT honestly - we’re different people with different beliefs, thoughts, and opinions. We don’t always agree, but we do always love each other. There’s much beauty in difference, for if we were all identical, this would be an awfully boring world. Not to mention, difference allows us to see things from a different perspective and grow. A belief is just a temporary “placeholder of operating procedure” until another belief takes its place – isn’t it remarkable how adaptable we are?!?!
I have a few practices in place that help me year-round that I’m offering you. I use these not only when I’m visiting family, but these practices help me show up each day with a calmer mind and open heart.
1. MEDITATE – Meditation is a foundational tool that we can build our day on. It’s said that the first 30 minutes of the day are the most impressionable to the mind. What happens during those first 30 minutes is how you’re programming the body to respond the rest of the day. Suppose you’re waking up to alerts going off on your phone, chaos in the house, and reading fear-based news. In that case, your nervous system will be on hyper-alert all day, and after time this can lead to chronic stress, which can manifest into something far worse. If you take those first 30 minutes of the day to meditate, you’re warming up the mind-body system. When you take the time to warm up the system, you’re more alert, focused, less reactionary, and more consciously responsive. I’ve recorded a Great Day Morning Meditation that is posted on Insight Timer. Check it out here.
2. STAY ACTIVE – Do some physical activity. Get those muscles and joints moving and the blood flowing. When we visit family, there’s a lot of sitting and not much moving. This lack of movement is the perfect garden for toxic invaders to plant themselves. This toxicity will affect the mind and put you into a more reactive state. Have you ever noticed how much better you feel after taking a walk or working out at the gym? Do your part for the peace of the family and MOVE! Moving the body helps to weed the garden of those toxic invaders!
3. AVOID STIMULANTS – A big one for me is SUGAR, and it is EVERYWHERE during the holidays. If I have too much sugar, it takes my mind into a strange place. It’s taken me a few years to pick up on this trend, but I feel like I have so much power now, just by knowing what sugar does to me. Too much makes me angry, irritable and I start the negative self-talk. Other stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol should be avoided as they do their part to affect the nervous system, which affects the vibe of your gathering. If you feel you need one of these stimulants, use moderation AND CAUTION!
4. GET REST – Set some boundaries. Get plenty of rest. Between 7 – 9 hours of sleep. Going through a week of visits with little rest is not pleasurable for anyone. There’s no need to push yourself or put anybody else through that. When it’s bedtime, simply excuse yourself. Getting a good night’s rest also ensures that you’ll be processing the delicious things you’ve had to eat and drink. Not to mention, you’re giving your mind a break!
5. S.T.O.P. – Now, here’s your secret tool to keep in your toolkit when something triggers you. I got this from Deepak Chopra, and it works GREAT. The “S” stands for Stop. “T” is for Taking a breath and smiling. “O” is for Observe – the sensations in your body. “P” is for Proceed with love, compassion, and awareness. This little tool will keep your mind cool and your mouth from saying things you might regret. It’ll also help bring more awareness into your mind-body system and allow you to proceed with care.
I invite you to have your Holiday Wellness Plan in place before you visit your family. Know exactly what your tools are and what practices are in place – and don’t skip them. Honor yourself. This is an act of Universal Love you’re offering. Your family may not understand your woo-woo ways, but they’ll undoubtedly feel the effects.
Need help getting your Wellness Plan ready for the holidays? Seth Barker is a Holistic Health Coach & Meditation teacher and would love to be by your side. If you’re not already subscribed to my blog, it's real easy!