Ahh, the holidays… While this season is one of my favorites of the year for many reasons — cheesy holiday movies, decorations, and Christmas Carols being among my top guilty pleasures — it can also be a time of great stress.
From traveling plans going awry to some mandatory social obligations, the sentiments of Merry and Bright can quickly feel like Scary and Uptight.
So here’s three quick tips you might consider to help get you through any tense moments you might encounter:
Three Tips to Get You Through Holiday Social Events (Even the Most Tedious)
1) Expectation Management.
It’s always interesting to me that we can experience something year in and year out, and yet still be surprised when we encounter it again. I don’t care if we’re talking about extra long lines at the post office or the mall, or that your obnoxious cousin comments on your hair, weight or reproductive habits before you’ve had your first sip of holiday cheer. I think we sometimes set ourselves up for the suckerpunch by not learning from past experiences.
But can’t people change?
Sure they can! Charles Dickens wrote a whole story about the change that can occur through the Magical Recipe of the Christmas Miracle… What with the help of hauntings from 4 ghosts (yes, four — everyone forgets Marley), 1 cup of guilt and 2 tsps of near death experience — a holiday transformation was born!
Although I highly doubt the lines at the post office/UPS Store will ever change, I do reserve some hope for family members, coworkers and the like.
I guess the real question is that while change is possible (anything is possible), is it likely?
While I like the idea of being an optimist, I think it’s important to learn from past experiences, and manage your expectations appropriately. Consider it a case of setting yourself up to be pleasantly surprised, rather than sorely disappointed.
2) Build in Rewards
Have to attend an event that you’re less than thrilled about?
Consider rewarding yourself with something that makes you feel a little more merry. Whether that’s getting a pedi before or treating yourself to a netflix and yoga pants day afterwards — rewards can help us feel like our own best cheerleader.
Rewarding yourself with other energizing or soul-nourishing activities is also a great way to add perspective to an event. The holidays, or so we’re told, are supposed to be a time to get your fill of love, acceptance and care — but this event you’re headed to couldn’t be farther from it.
So treat it like a work obligation, put a check in the box — and then go an get yourself some of that yummy, lovey goodness from some place you actually enjoy. There’s a reason why the notion of “Friends-giving” has exploded in popularity in recent years.
3) Consider a Code Word
Traveling with a partner in crime? Consider a code word or phrase to help communicate how you’re doing or when it’s time to plan an exit.
Sometimes just having someone else know (and care) how you’re doing can make all the difference. Not to mention that having a plan can alleviate anxieties tied to fears of being ‘trapped’ in a social situation without any means for a graceful exit. The best phrases are things that can be worked seamlessly into conversation.
Pro tip: Don’t forget about technology. While not appropriate for all settings, texting makes it a lot easier to check in or let them know it’s time to check out.
Christmas Miracles and Tips
Do I sound too cynical? I’m sorry, I don’t mean to —
This really is a rather magical time of year — so is absolutely important to remember to keep a little bit of room for those uncanny Christmas Miracles. AND you can also have a plan for those times when the ‘miracle’ is simply getting out alive.
Have you figured out how to successfully navigate holiday obligations and frustrations? Although every situation is unique, we can always use more strategies to get us through some of life’s more tedious events. Share your tried and true tips and tricks in the comments!
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