The holidays tend to be a difficult time for many people, and “going home” for family gatherings isn’t always easy or comfortable. Every family deals with some level of dysfunction, and family visits can bring up old wounds, throw us back into the bad habits we thought we broke, and trigger us beyond compare.
Despite the dysfunction, pain, and triggers, many of us still choose to attend these family gatherings like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Oftentimes, our goal is simply to survive with as few scrapes as possible, but what if there was a way we could actually thrive at these holiday family gatherings?
Here’s a few tools I recommend to thrive during the holidays…
1 – Bathroom Meditations
You deserve some space and time to yourself. However, full house or not, escaping family can be difficult. It’s often too cold or wet to go for a walk outside. If it somehow turns out to be warm and sunny, suddenly everyone wants to go on that walk with you.
Do you know where people don’t want to go with you? The bathroom.
Keep your headphones and phone in your back pocket and excuse yourself to the restroom. Tada! Welcome to a few minutes of peace and quiet.
Use this time to clear space in your head through guided meditation. A great, free app that I use is called the Insight Timer.
If meditation isn’t your thing, you can also just have a dance party to shake off all the negativity you picked up.
Remember to make sure you flush the toilet, even if you didn’t actually use it. After all, your family did assume you were going to the bathroom to… uh… relieve yourself, not escape them. Why break the façade?
2 – Puppy Love
Have a dog? Bring him with you! Scientific studies show that owning (or being around) a dog can help decrease depression, anxiety, and stress. Just petting a dog can decrease blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension that is likely heightened due to holiday s tress.
Playing with a dog gives you a great distraction from any family drama, and allows you to get outside into nature for regular potty breaks.
Plus, where there is a cute puppy for the family to focus on, it takes some of the “heat” off of you. I mean, how can your relative complain about how you’re not doing “enough” with your life when there’s an irresistible puppy begging to be played with at her feet?