Holidays can be full of love and gravy and raucous merriment. But, holidays can also be stressful and lonely and overwhelming and sad.
Most commonly, we feel a bit of ALL of it. Especially if you cannot be with your extended family, your kids are with your ex, your aging parents are across the country, or you can’t make it “home” for the holidays.
THIS is the time to prepare ourselves emotionally for the possibility of holiday downsides.
THIS is when you have the energy (maybe?) and the time (possibly?) to think ahead and prepare… Just like you purchase gifts and decorate the house, you can take some time to prepare yourself emotionally for the holidays.
Here are some creative emotional-support tips you can use this season:
If you cannot be with your extended family…
Jot a quick list of what you appreciate or admire most about each person. Then, send a package with the individual notes and an old photo of you together (or a small trinket that can remind them of you).
The Benefit: Everyone loves to read something nice about themselves and this act of connection and thoughtfulness may serve to lessen feelings of separation.
If you cannot be with your children…
Set up a virtual treasure hunt at home using their favorite books, hobbies, or sports figures as inspiration. Working through a fun adventure, with a goal in mind, is a great way to bond and truly feel as if you’re actually together.
With younger children or special needs children, you can read a chapter from a beloved book, listen to music together, or make popcorn and watch a movie together virtually.
If you cannot be with your aging parents…
Send a treasure trove of memories. This is a small box with pictures, trinkets and notes from the past. Have them open the box with you on the phone or on a video call. Then, share with them WHY you sent each item and what it means to you.
(Also, be sure to include a note that specifies what you look forward to doing with them in the future, like taking a drive somewhere special, playing a board game together, or cooking a favorite family meal the next time you’re together.)
If you cannot be with your partner….
Remind yourself of your spouse’s love language (or use the five love languages online quiz). Then, use THAT as your guide to connect with your partner virtually at least every other day you’re apart.
For instance, even if your husband’s love language is “physical touch” you can send him a super soft blanket or one of your favorite t-shirts. Then, send a text or voice message every other day describing how you miss holding hands or touching him. If your partner prefers “acts of service” make sure your messages note the little things you’re doing for him, the house, the kids, or your finances.
If you cannot fly back home…
Bring tiny bits of home to YOU. First, you can ask someone from “back home” to send you something special that reminds you of home (like an old stuffed animal). Then, get the recipe for one of the signature dishes that reminds you of home, and sit that stuffed tiger up nearby to share the experience with you.
Second, make a NEW tradition with a neighbor, friend, or colleague like going on a hike Christmas morning, signing up for a tamale-making party, or committing to a nearby Turkey Trot.
Strategies to Reduce Anxiety:
Note: Eustress v Stress, coffee cup example
Level 1 tools – in-the-moment tips (CLMs, 5 slow deep breaths, water, gum, 2 min HIIT, 30-second silliness, Qigong breathing exercise) *client story about Qigong
Level 2 tools – 5-10 mins (noticing nature walk, grounding, afternoon shower, gratitude practice, teens music playlist, laughing distraction, balloon stress visualization, )
Jay Question: What causes “overhwhelm”?
Level 3 tools – deep, ongoing emotional care – check in on alignment time/resources/attention/energy w/core values (have everyone list their top ⅘ now)
Jay Question: What can parents do to create more TIME for themselves?
Strategies to Create More Time: (by fostering more autonomy w/kiddos)
- Delegate % by grade level
- Morning Clarity (5 min mindfulness)
- Chores (give a chore warning, choose your poison, no splitting, do your own chores alongside)
- Preemptive Strike your break times *client story about working from home
Jay Question: What can parents do to foster EMOTIONAL health and resilience in our children?
Strategies to Foster Emotional Health in our Children:
– mindfulness practices (bathtime and nature walks with young children) – 5 Senses
– guided meditations or stories at bedtime
– sensory countdown
– oil and glitter jar *client story about temper tantrum kiddo
Jay Question: How can parents get more SLEEP and improve the quality of their sleep?
Strategies to Improve Sleep:
- Prioritizing *client story about journaling late instead of sleep
- Devices (off and away from the bedroom)
- Grounding (outside or water)
- Releasing busy thoughts (journaling or visualization)
- Mindfulness, meditation and gratitude