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How to stay calm around family during the holiday season

The holidays are coming! For some of you, this is a dreaded time as you’ll likely be surrounded by people that exhaust you. Whether the reason stems from a difference in political views, a specific incident that left everyone emotionally injured, or just a series of small passive aggressive jabs that make you want to lose your cool, self care is critical over the holidays, arguably more than any other time of the year. Since Thanksgiving is on Thursday, we hardly have time to recover from our Wednesday work day before heading off to the lion’s den. Maybe you’re hosting Thanksgiving and have to clean your party space before guests start arriving. Whatever your stressor may be, you’re not alone and you need to take care of yourself. If you don’t take time for yourself, you’re likely to let all the holiday stress affect you and possibly experience a meltdown. Here are some self care practices you will most definitely want to utilize to better equip you with the armor needed to defend against anything that comes your way.

Deep breathing

Get some fresh oxygen circulating through your bloodstream, especially when something triggers your emotions. Inhale deeply for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds, and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat three more times. This is called circle breathing. Try to envision an actual circle as you breathe through these rounds. If after these three rounds you don’t feel a little calmer and more emotionally stable, try another three rounds.

Wake up 30 minutes early to spend time with just yourself

Fill your cup before you fill anyone else’s cup. Take 30 minutes to just do whatever fills your cup. For me, it’s drinking a cup of coffee and going for a quick run or a walk with my puppy or just solo. Maybe you recharge by reading a chapter out of that book you haven’t had a time to read, or listening to an episode of your favorite podcast. Honestly, 30 minutes isn’t that much time, sleep wise. It will really recharge you to get some quality one on one time with your bff (re: you).

Book a massage or schedule a pedicure

This isn’t always feasible, especially since money and time can be a little tight around the holidays. But if you can squeeze in some time to get a little pamper sesh on, you won’t regret it. Look good, feel good, do good. Oh, PS - you can also just have an at-home spa date with yourself. Run to the local drug store, grab some face masks, nail polish, and a little lavender oil, and get to pampering. Get creative! Sometimes, you might need to multi-task and pamper on the run (see above photo).

Walk away from conversations that exhaust you

If something is uncomfortable, have the strength to just walk away. We don’t have to respond to every comment or change every person in one weekend. In fact, it’s in our best interest not to attempt that. Sometimes, just a smile and a canned response is enough. I have a few canned responses I keep in my back pocket for various situations. A few of my favorites:

“Oh man, I can see where you’re coming from with that one and equally see the opposing side of that argument.”

“That’s a tough one, isn’t it?”

“I’ve had way too much to eat/to drink/sleep and really can’t seem to articulate myself very well right now. Maybe later!”

Find a workout class

Some studios will offer specials during the holidays, like free week trial or a BOGO deal. Take advantage of these and check out a workout class you don’t usually have time to try. Whenever I’m home, I love to try a new yoga studio or at least try to go to SoulCycle. It’s a great way to keep active, let off some steam, and get some time away from the stress. Added bonus - you might even find a new workout that you enjoy and would like to add to your routine.

Stick to your workout routine as best as possible

This one might be difficult but if you can manage to stay on track with your workouts, then by all means, do so! Sticking to your routine will help keep things as close to normal as possible. If you are unable to squeeze in a workout like you normally do, no need to start feeling guilty. Seriously, there is no time to feel guilty over our workouts right now. But personally, getting in a good workout gives me a sense of accomplishment and that post-exercise endorphin high makes me feel like I can tackle anything that comes my way.

Stay hydrated and eat your greens and fruits

Eliminate at least one of the stressors this season and keep your health in tip top shape. Stay hydrated and eat those fruits and vegetables. Start your day off with a glass of water and a piece of fruit. Try to sneak in some vegetables at some point, even if it means going out and buying some yourself and stashing them away somewhere.

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