Spending time with family during the holidays can be stressful because you activate old thoughts and emotions. You have a long, long history with your relatives, and if you're not careful, it's easy to fall into old patterns of behavior. You may experience negative feelings that don't usually occur in your daily life. But with a little practice, it's easy to overcome holiday blues and truly enjoy the festivities.
Recognize physical symptoms as a direct result of your thought patterns.
Do you tend to get sick around this time of year? Consider the role your thoughts play in manifesting illness. On Christmas eve we were running late, so I rushed through my morning workout and strained my neck doing crunches. What a literal result of thinking "holidays are a pain in the neck!"
As I relaxed with my family at my parents' house that evening, my "dog allergies" suddenly came back with full force. I thought I had gotten over them! The next day, I realized that I was so worried about what my family members were thinking about me that I was suffocating myself with my thoughts.
Focus on the positive aspects.
When Kel and I returned to Austin yesterday, we slipped into a conversation about the one thing that was bothering us about Christmas. As soon as we realized what we were doing, we began talking about all the things we liked about our experience. I was overwhelmed with feelings of love and started bawling with relief! We have the choice to feel good or bad about our experiences. Focusing on the positive aspects is the best way to ensure next year will be filled with even more.
Make it a game.
We can't expect others to change their behavior in order for us to be happy. But we can train them to be less negative! Whenever Kel or I would hear someone say something negative, one of us would respond with a phrase from Drinking Out of Cups. "Yeah right!" one of us would yell in a terrible Long Island accent, or "get real!" We got a laugh out of it and annoyed the offending Negative Nellies into silence!
Do your job.
My job is to feel good, and I show up for work every single day. I don't take holidays. When I'm around emotionally lazy people, I just think of it as a hard day's work. It may be exasperating to stay cheerful when others around you think you're a self-help nut, but rest assured that they'll understand one day–even if it's the day they croak. For now, all you can do is lead by your powerful example and reap the rewards of feeling good!