Holiday Survival Tips


Are you stressed out about your family get-together? Are you worried about being alone? Here are my tips for those that are apprehensive about the next few weeks. I use all of them, so I can testify to their power!

Power Pose: Go in the bathroom, lock the door, and spend 2 minutes standing like Wonder Woman. You can watch Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk for the research details. It’s a handy tool to help you deal with everything from your mother barking orders on getting dinner ready, to your creepy cousin and your dad’s lost filter, after that third drink.

Make your own traditions: Even if you have to be part of a larger gathering, you can do some small things for yourself. We prepare food from a different country or ethnicity every holiday. This year, we had Swiss raclette for Thanksgiving and made Spanish paella with the leftovers. The reason I do this is because my mom worked so hard to create a Norman Rockwell holiday in our house, that she made everyone in her path (mostly me) miserable. Christmas dinner is often something that can be done in one pot, such as soup or Brazilian feijoada, so I can relax most of the day with everyone else.

Pull from other traditions: This year I made these birdseed ornaments (photo at the top) for the fence in front of my house. I will make more next week for the winter solstice. I love nature and pulling from pagan traditions is a great way to connect. I also love Native American prayers and songs. You only need a drum, if that, to sing along. You could meditate, chant, read the ten Sefirot of the Kabbalah, read a mythological tale, get an astrological reading, buy a set of oracle cards or runes and draw from them, sit under a tree, dance along the water, watch the sunrise or the sunset. The possibilities are endless and pulling in another tradition doesn’t make you blasphemous. It makes you compassionate and connected. I love this TED talk on the math of empathy could make a great ritual!

Set Boundaries: This is about self-care, not upsetting or getting revenge on anyone else. You don’t have to be a doormat for the holidays. I put my foot down on visiting family at the holidays. I am much more negotiable other days of the year. Our families do not live near us, so it’s a relatively easy line to draw. They are welcome at our house. However, unless I am going somewhere fabulous, like Paris or Fiji, I am not interested in traveling at the holidays. Your boundary doesn’t have to make everyone happy – just you. It doesn’t have to be as big as mine, either. Just setting an arrival or departure time that suits you, or bringing your own bottle of wine because you don’t like what is usually served can contribute to self-care.

Maintain Perspective: If someone is all upset about something, it’s really their own repressed feelings coming out. It has nothing to do with you. Own your stuff as best you can. We’re all a bunch of struggling meat bodies trying to let our souls come through so we can see each other at the soul level. We’re all doing our best, even if it’s not very good by some (or all) standards.