The Holiday Nutcracker
The German tradition says that the Nutcracker gives good luck and protection to your household. It’s a symbol of power and strength, and if you’ve seen the ballet, it can ward off enchanted rats and dance a pas de deux. I digress. It’s an iconic symbol for the Christmas season, and I think it’s a great reminder of how important it is to protect our time and our hearts at the busy holidays.
Be intentional about your time.
The holidays are packed with parties and commitments. It’s hard to decide which events to prioritize, but if we don’t streamline our schedules, we will become overloaded very quickly. I say this as someone who loves to do EVERYTHING at the holiday season (note to self: streamline). If you’ve been following my holiday calendar event on Facebook and Instagram (you are, right?), you know that we talked in day 2 about letting our values guide our decisions. The same idea applies to holiday activities. It’s early enough in the season to start thinking about what the holidays mean to you–what values you want the season to represent. It’s a good idea to sit down and decide your family holiday values, so that everyone is in alignment. Once you figure those out, choose the activities that reflect those values–ones where you feel like a participant and not just a visitor. And if they all do, then pick the top 2 or 3, keeping in mind that regular life obligations don’t just go on hold in December.
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Protecting your heart at the holidays
We like to think of the holidays as a time when fairy dust covers the world, but in reality, we often encounter difficult people and situations at this time of year. Holidays can bring complicated emotions and family dynamics, so it’s important to create a plan for protecting your emotional health.
Maintaining healthy boundaries is essential. Create a plan now.
Here are some ideas for setting some emotional boundaries during the holidays:
- Get your support team together. You know the people you can text or call when you need a break from dysfunction. Keep them on standby (or invite them to your activities).
- Schedule self-care. This doesn’t necessarily mean luxurious pampering (although it can). It just means scheduling a few moments for yourself here and there to keep your emotions on an even keel.
- Stay mindful. We can get caught up in worrying about what could happen instead of paying attention to what is happening. Worry takes away from enjoyment.
- Accept differences. Sometimes we are unfair to well-meaning relatives whose personalities clash with our own. Try to find some sort of common ground and focus on it.
- Gravitate toward the people you like at a holiday function. Minimize your interactions with difficult relatives, and realize it’s ok to stay away from abusive ones.
- Set boundaries about topics of conversation. You don’t have to answer those intrusive (or snarky) questions or engage in contentious discussion. Start practicing boundary statements now, so that they are easy to access at a difficult moment (e.g., I don’t think we agree, but let’s focus on having a happy holiday together instead).
- Stuck? Take a breath (or 5). Focusing on your breath, even for a moment, can help relieve anxiety.