I love being around family during the holidays, but it does test particular parts of me I wish it didn’t. I’ve developed a few of my own secret tools, and today, psychotherapist Astrid Schmidt is sharing 5 tips to help maximize your care. Astrid says, “Being with family for the holidays is basically asking the universe to give you “stimulating” material to work with.” Do you feel the same?
1. Take your pulse. Keep a gentle, mindful eye on what is happening for you internally. Notice how you feel before a conversation starts. Then check back in 5 minutes later. Are you breathing? Are you anxious? Are you angry? Did you just eat 5 cookies? Keeping a finger on the pulse of your experience will give you the greatest leverage for taking care of yourself in the moment.
2. A healthy boundary means being willing to adjust to take care of your needs– not your brother’s or mom’s– first. It means leaving 2 days earlier than planned if the environment becomes toxic. Instead of letting your mom get away with making remarks about your appearance that drive you nuts, say
“Mom, I know you care about me AND I really don’t like it when you comment on how I look. It makes me uncomfortable. Would you mind keeping those thoughts to yourself?” Say it with love and compassion. Say it with an authentic smile, because you love this woman. She makes you crazy, but you can help her make you less crazy.
3. Visualize. If you know you will be seeing a ‘certain someone’ that pushes all of your buttons, anticipate a challenging moment that might occur and visualize yourself handling it in a way where you remain in integrity while being kind and loving with the other person. This will calm your central nervous system and help you move more gracefully into this person’s vicinity.
4. Take care of your child. Your inner-child that is. Your hurt inner-child has the potential to become triggered. Before you start your travels, think about her and see how old she looks. Tell her that you will be taking care of her throughout the week and that she is safe with you. Keep her in your consciousness. If you find yourself being triggered, you can go to a private room and connect with and soothe her. For example, you can hold a pillow and rock it as though it was the smaller part of you that is hurt. Wrap yourself in a warm blanket and imagine being cradled. Take a warm bath. Enlist support. Ask your partner for a hug. Call a friend.
5. Breathe. When all else fails – breathe! If you get anxious or stressed, your breath is your lifeline. Consciously deepening the breath, by letting the lower belly out and filling the lungs, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, or the rest, relax and digest system. Even one deeper breath will slow down time, soothe and center you.