Holiday Season represents many things and conjures varied emotions for different people. For many, it's fun and festive, for some quiet and laid back, or for others it may be full of angst and tension. Regardless of where you stand, we have tools to help you survive the holidays holistically and in one piece.
As I reflect on the holidays, it brings up really great memories filled with family and full houses, but if I'm being honest also a little angst. Don't get me wrong, my family is amazing, and the people that I most enjoy spending time with, but being a part of a large extended family also means figuring out where you fit in (particularly as a kid). As I've gotten older, the anxiousness associated with showing up authentically as myself to family functions has somewhat faded, but I attribute this in part to tools that I've adopted to help ease any temporary anxiety that might creep in.
As our family has grown and changed over the years, we now have so many lifestyles represented (so I'm no longer the "odd man out"). We have those that celebrate the holidays in full force, those who have adopted new traditions of their own, and those who come just for the pie (lol, just kidding). In our family there are many diets (pork free, lactose free, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free etc.) and many practices observed (gift giving, not gift giving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and so on)!
So, with some much diversity of lifestyles, perspectives and experiences, how does one navigate all that the holidays bring (good and not-so-great), while remaining true and whole? Well, we've got just the trick!
Well, the trick is less of a trick (no pulling rabbits out of hats here), but more of a practice, that when honored and used with consistency can help alleviate stress, and bring peace of mind and balance to one's life, during the holidays and beyond!
The practice is establishing Boundaries. Boundaries is one of those words that can sometimes create conflict and division, but when enforced with care, is less about saying NO to people and things (which is often what creates the feeling of separation) and more about saying YES to yourself.
As someone who has observed a plant based diet for going on 20 years, learning to establish boundaries was necessary and essential to my health and well-being. I come from a family that traditionally eats meat, so the way that I practice healthy boundary setting is by making sure that I prepare food that agrees with my body that I'll enjoy. This way I eat good, feel good, am not left out, and don't hurt too many feelings in the process. See it's about saying Yes to what's right for you, instead of No to what others are offering. And, you might even introduce someone else to something new and enjoyable in the process. That's a win-win for all!
Another example of how to practice holistic boundary setting during the holidays is by carving out space and time for yourself. I love big family gatherings. They nourish me in many ways, but as an introvert, I sometimes feel spent when it's all said and done. So what I do to help ensure that I am present and enjoying myself when amongst my big family, is to carve out quiet time for myself before and after holidays gatherings. For example, I wake up without an alarm clock to start my day naturally, and have a personal tea time to establish a good mood and flow for the remainder of my day. Another hack that I've learned, is (whenever possible) to have my own transportation. This way, I'm not held hostage to someone else's time, and when I'm feeling ready for a break (regardless of how much fun and good times I've had), I can politely excuse myself to take care of my own needs. Now that's what I call boundaries working for and not against you (or others)!
Lastly, perhaps, you're on a strict budget, but want to do something special for your family and friends during the holidays. Instead of spending money that you can't afford to spend, do something thoughtful like preparing everyone's favorite meal, offering to wash the dishes (whoever is cooking will certainly appreciate that), or leading a fun and inclusive activity for all to enjoy.
See the holidays aren't about spending money that you don't have, eating food that you can't eat, or celebrating in ways that don't feel true to you. Instead, they should be about doing whatever nourishes and fulfills you, and cherishing time with the ones you love ... starting with yourself!
Establishing boundaries and honoring the ones that you've put in place will help you to do just that; be present, full and holistically well during the holidays. So here's to good manners (saying "no, thank you" to things that don't work for you, "yes, please" to that which does), and true "well-being" this Holiday Season!