The holidays are here! Yes, it is the time of the year when we spend increased time with our families—during which we can become stressed out at the mere thought. In fact, many people go into the holiday season wondering how they are going to survive. I was one of those people. Spending time with my family has been great at times and miserable at others. There was a time when I dreaded the holidays and going back to my hometown. However, as I grew in emotional intelligence, I changed my thoughts and began to manage my emotions, which helped me to set clear boundaries and respond instead of react. Nowadays, I tend to thrive during the holidays! So how can you move from surviving to thriving emotionally this holiday season?
- Increase the focus on yourself. People will tell you that it is selfish to think about yourself too much, which is true. But it is also unhealthy to not think about yourself enough—because other than God, no one knows your needs better than you. So, if you need time to yourself away from your family, your in-laws, your “different” cousins, or the general craziness, then take it. Let people know in advance that you may need some “alone time” (I call it “Michelle time) and then when you need it, take a walk, take a drive, or find a quiet place to unwind. Also—take a nap (or naps)! Sleep is instrumental in helping you cope better, feel better, and interact better with others. So get a good night’s sleep and take some naps. Remember, no one else will make that time for you, so just do it.
- Release the burden of others’ emotions. When I need “Michelle time,” sometimes people are supportive and sometimes they are not. I used to get upset because others felt mad/hurt/upset at my need for space. Now, I release that—it is their issue, not mine. Once on vacation when Michelle time was over, I noticed one of my family members acting as if I had purposefully hurt them by taking time for myself. I, however, did not react to that (or respond to it). I ignored it. Now, had I done something wrong, I would have addressed it and apologized. But restoring my soul with much-needed alone time does not qualify as wrongdoing, so I released the issue and acted normally—and eventually, that family member did too.
- Pray. Pray. Pray. Few things have gotten me through the insanity of family gatherings like prayer. I have noticed that when I pray for my family members, I am the one who changes. The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.” If you are anxious about this holiday season, cast your emotions onto God in prayer! He hears you, and He will answer because He loves you. How do I know? Because my responses are more grace-filled, I am more receptive to others, and my emotions are more balanced—because of God’s grace and mercy in answer to my prayers.
Remember: it starts in your mind with your emotions! Take some steps this season to move from surviving to thriving emotionally—and learn to enjoy the holidays with your family!
What are some ways you have learned to thrive emotionally during the holidays?