Family Gathering Survival Toolkit: 4 Mindful Tips for Happier Holidays With Your Family by Julie Potiker
With about a fifth of Americans preferring time alone or with friends over family time during the holidays, here are some quick tips to make holiday family time easier to navigate.
1. To be less reactive, PAUSE: Put colored dot stickers in your car, on your jacket, on your wallet or your purse – wherever you will most easily and often see them on your way to spend time with family. When you see one of these stickers, let it remind you to pause. Just that brief pause will break you out of the cycle of ruminating and worrying. You can even attach a happy memory to the sticker and recall it in your mind each time. That way, when you pause, you are installing a positive mental state. Take a breath or two and push that positive state into a neural trait, making yourself more happy and resilient.
2. Arrive mindfully to family gatherings: I recommend taking five to 10 minutes to transition from your everyday world into the holiday family gathering world. That short amount of time can mean all the difference between how you show up. Try listening to a guided meditation on the free Insight Timer app. There’s a fabulous guided meditation by Rick Hanson called Coming Home to Happiness that is eight minutes long. It guides you to leave what you don’t want to bring into the house with you in a suitcase outside your front door. It’s awesome.
3. Practice forgiveness and letting go: Family gatherings can be especially triggering if there are unresolved issues between family members. You might want to try a guided meditation for forgiveness and letting go. The Insight Timer has a category for forgiveness with meditations and talks from some wonderful teachers.
4. Boost your self-care by volunteering: Along with the usual tips of exercising, eating healthy and getting enough good sleep, I encourage you to add volunteering to your self-care regimen. There are lots of volunteer opportunities around the holidays, and doing something for others is a biggie in terms of achieving overall mental health and happiness. The happier and healthier you are in your mind and body, the easier it will be to keep your sense of inner peace around your family.
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