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5 Tips for Thriving, not just Surviving, this Holiday Season

There are a lot of reasons the Holiday season, and the end of the year in general, take it out of us. Family, money, busy or empty social calendars, additional work demands or kids home from school are only a few of the reasons we might feel stressed. Somewhere in the middle of the positive and negative stressors, we can find ourselves getting caught and exhausted.

Here are 5 TIPS for not only managing, but really enjoying your end of year season...

  1. Take breaks. Nobody can go without stopping forever. Just like planes need to refuel to make around the world trips, we humans need down time, rest time, or just an occasional break to carry on. Busy seasons can fill all the little areas in our life where we normally have margin, so it takes being intentional to choose to give ourselves breaks. This can be as simple as taking a five minute break to breathe and look around in the middle of a busy shopping trip or work day. Or, booking that hotel room when you go to visit people to give yourself some built in time away. Whatever breaks you need, recognizing it's not only okay, but it's good to refuel can give us back our sanity in a busy, margin-less, holiday.

  2. Focus on now. Sometimes holidays can get us remembering the past or dreaming (or worrying) about the future, and missing the actual moment we are in. If you notice you are stuck in a daydream about years before or possible futures, take a breath and consider what is right in front of you. Taking a minute to notice 2-3 things either physically around you or that you are grateful for at this moment of your life can bring you back to your current reality and help you feel grounded and present.

  3. Stick to boundaries. Whether they are financial or social, deciding in advance what you will do or not do and then sticking to those things can make a world of difference in your experience of stress. This doesn't mean if you find just the right gift for $5 over budget you don't splurge, or if you're friends surprise you with a night of fun, you don't have the power to adjust or adapt. The point of this advice is to empower you to stay within your means both financially and in terms of social and emotional energy.

  4. Pick your family. This might sound a bit ridiculous, since family is one of the things you often don't have power to choose. This isn't suggesting you rewrite your genetics, but that you have some power in your life to pick the people you want to be with and share life with. It may be that your actual family are the exact people you want to spend time with over the holidays, or it may be that you have friends or people around who you value and want to celebrate with. Consider this your encouragement to take a minute to decide who those people are and to choose to intentionally prioritize the relationships in your life with the people you want to be around.

  5. Celebrate. We are wired to learn, and so much of our learning focuses on avoiding the hard things. This is a really good thing for our survival, but can sometimes have a negative side effect of making us more likely to notice the bad things instead of the good. The more we intentionally practice the positive things, like gratitude and celebration, the more our brain knows how to be grateful and celebratory. If a pro soccer player kicks a ball the same way thousands of times it will become brain and muscle memory and the player will be able to access and repeat the motion without effort. Spending time in the positive makes it easier for us to feel that way again later. The more we practice, the better we get at it. So, the more we celebrate, the more we are able to celebrate!

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