9 strategies for surviving the holidays with an open heart

The holiday season can be a mixed bag – joy, laughter, generosity, drama, triggers, conflict.

For some it’s a season to look forward to; for others it’s a season to dread. No matter how you feel about the holiday season there are practices you can engage in to survive the holiday season with an open heart.

burn your to-do list

You know the list that has been running your life for the last month, year, decade? Burn it along with your Yule log. It has no business following you into the holidays, they are stressful enough.

If it’s really important you will remember it.
It will get done.

When the holiday spirit moves you into action, let yourself be moved. Until then, watch the fire burn.

schedule what matters

Over the holidays, schedule days to be completely off – nothing wiggles into your day{s} off except for what opens your heart.

It’s a day to spend time in nature, read the book you’ve been wanting to read, make green smoothies, call someone you want to call, sip herbal tea sweetened with raw honey, feel what you are feeling, write gratitude cards, do some belly breathing, share a meal with a person who opens your heart, go for a run, lay in Savasana.

If you don’t schedule what matters, the holiday stress may swallow you up and spit you out in the New Year.

sleep

Block off time in your schedule for extra sleep so your mind and body can recharge and recover.

When you block it off, schedule it in and make space for it, it’s much easier to stick to it. Putting it in your schedule makes it official and gives you permission to keep your commitment to yourself.

indulge

Indulge in things that nourish your soul – soaking in a bubble bath, creating a rockin’ playlist, throwing paint on a canvas, making snow angels.

When your soul is full, it’s easier to not fill up on things that make you feel gross {one more Nanaimo bar will compliment this bottle of Merlo perfectly!}

return to your roots, with love

When you spend time with family consciously choose to share happy stories, fond memories, and good times. No matter how small or fleeting those things were, they were there.

Often we’re so caught up in the drama we forget the peace.
Pay attention to the peace and it will grow.

Listen to positive songs from your past, reminisce over delightful photos, bring out the childhood book you loved and read it again.

gratitude

Make gratitude a daily practice – cards, text messages, phone calls, flowers, thoughtful gifts you can afford.

Think of all the awesome things in your life.
These things didn’t happen without the love and support of others.
Acknowledge and appreciate the good.
examine expectations

Expectations of how we should be, our family should be, the holidays should be are crazy-making.

When we expect to give the perfect gift, get the perfect gift, cook the perfect turkey, or have the perfect conversation we miss the messy, beautiful, imperfection of life.

It’s the imperfection that makes life real and interesting.
Honor it.
slooooooow down and tune in

You have a reliable internal guidance system. How is your body feeling when you say yes to making 6 dozen squares, hosting a 30-person dinner party and providing gifts for everyone? Are you light and energized? Are you heavy and exhausted?

Say yes to what you want to say yes to.
Say no to what you want to say no to.
Invite the people you want to invite.
Bake what you want to bake.
 
If you don’t want to buy presents, try giving the gift of your presence instead.
hire a pro

Holidays can be a rough time — emotions run high, triggers are flying, people are crying, drama is soaring.

You may be able to manage it and you may not.

If you can’t manage it on your own there are professionals who can help you. Reach out to your favorite psychologist or local distress center. You are not alone.

For better or for worse, the holidays only come once a year.
Follow your heart, do what matters, remember to love.