If you're anything like me, you reminisce on how much the holiday season has changed since you were a child. I have moments where I feel like the expectations of the season (buy me this, get her that, bake this, do that) lead me to feel overwhelmed and like a puppet on strings being pulled in a million different directions. This is supposed to be fun!
Do yourself a favor and, before you find yourself in the midst of family get-togethers, work parties, and any other upcoming stressful events, take the reigns. Prioritize the following suggestions. You will set yourself up for a more sane holiday, and people will be asking you why you look so happy.
This one may sound simple and like a no-brainer, but really…be yourself. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the expectations of family and friends and where they think you should be, but rather, enjoy sharing with them who you are today. Don’t have the dream job yet? Talk about what you’ve been working on for fun. Not sure when you will get popped “the question” by your significant other, or don’t even have a significant other? Talk about friends you have been spending time with or your favorite TV show you have been keeping up with. The less you feel the need to share about yourself to “prove” anything, the more you will be able to engage in lighthearted conversation with low pressure.
Don't Talk About It!
You control what, and how much, people know about you. This can seem like an outrageous idea to those of you who grew up in an enmeshed, or “everyone knows everyone else’s business”, family. But, yes, it is true. There are appropriate and inappropriate times to discuss certain aspects of your life, even with family. Filter through what things currently going on in your life don’t need to be shared with anyone right now and what can stand to wait. Chances are, if you are feeling pressured in the midst of a conversation, you aren’t really comfortable engaging in that topic of discussion. It’s okay to pull out a few magical phrases like “I’m not really sure about that right now, but thanks for thinking about that/me!” or “That’s really not something I feel like talking about right now. But how have you been doing?”
Watch Your Crutches
We all have crutches - the things that we use to support us, make situations more bearable, or to take the edge off of uncomfortable feelings we are experiencing. Alcohol, food, social media, drama…the list goes on. Think about what your crutches tend to be, or what you have historically used in family gatherings if those are situations you have anxiety about attending. Don’t let yourself be owned by these crutches. Monitor your use and practice healthy ways of addressing your anxiety. Do some research or see a therapist before so you can create a game plan.