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Managing Ups and Downs of the Holidays

Holidays are a wonderful, happy time of year. But they can also be difficult. Often, there are added activities at school, church, home, or all three, which can leave us tired and stressed. Being around family for a few hours, a few days, or longer, while joyful, can also spark old triggers, or feelings can be hurt. Or maybe you’re alone for the holidays and miss your family.

Below are some tips we've found that help us enjoy time during the holidays.

Make time for yourself – it’s easy to be pulled in many different ways this time of year. Being stressed, tired, or both can make it harder to interact. Make the time to do things that help you de-stress. It may be as simple as reading the Bible, journaling, going for a walk, or enjoying a morning cup of coffee. Making quiet time for yourself each day (without technology) is important.

Worship – it’s so easy to be distracted this time of year. Going to church can keep us grounded on the reason for the season – Christ’s birth. The best gift of all!

Family Time

Think of the Positive – before you get together with family, take time to remember special times with them, things you appreciate about them, or a favorite tradition with them. When you see them, tell them about it and what it means to you.

Discuss ground rules – Maybe you have small kids you want to keep on a schedule, or college/adult kids are coming home and may want to stay out late. Think about your family’s situation, your must-have, discuss it with your family, and ask them about theirs.

Do Something as a Family - engage in puzzles or games together. Board games or card games can add laughter. Have a baking competition, try karaoke, or family movie night.

Give each other space – Just as it’s important to make time for yourself, others may need some quiet time, too. If you think you should check on someone, do. But if they express they’re okay, just want to be alone for a bit, etc., allow them their space.

Set aside expectations – when we hope for an outcome, we’re often setting ourselves up for disappointment. Such as thinking, “if I do x, then they’ll feel/do/say y.” It rarely happens the way we hope it will, and if they respond differently than we hoped, we may respond negatively. So when giving a gift, doing or saying something nice, do so with just the other person in mind.

Be kind – be intentional in saying things that are nice to each other, and refrain from saying something that may be a trigger for someone else.

Find Something Everyone Enjoys – Maybe it’s enjoying hot chocolate and s’mores (no fireplace? A candle works great!), reminiscing about favorite times together, hiking, or looking at holiday lights. Or look for an activity/event going on in your area that everyone might enjoy.

Alone for the Holidays

Connect with friends – set time to connect with a friend or two in person.  

Keep healthy habits - sticking to a schedule can make us feel good. Washing your face in the morning and before bed, not staying up excessively late (unless you normally do), and eating healthy instead of overindulging can make us feel better.

Explore someplace new – maybe it’s an area of town or the next town over that you never have time to go. Make the time now and see something new.

Decorate – if you decorate when the family is visiting, decorate when they’re not able to. It may seem like a fuss, but you’ll enjoy the decorations.

Do something good for yourself – what's something that always makes you feel good or lifts your spirits? Making the time to do it can bring a sense of calm and peace.  

Wishing you much peace, joy, and healthy relationships!


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