By Abby Glaser
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”
The holiday season is upon us after a monumental year! You may be looking forward to the holiday or you may be dreading it. You might even be feeling a little bit of both! Nothing has been typical about 2020 and that includes how we will all celebrate the holiday season. For many, holidays can bring stress, anxiety or loneliness. After a crazy year you might be unsure how to navigate this season.
Here are five tips to help your days be merry and bright!
1. Assume the best for everyone. Our perspective has immense power over our experience. What if you could head into the holidays assuming the best about everyone you encounter? Dr. Brene Brown calls this “assuming positive intent.” Listen to what's actually being said and try to understand it. Don't read between the lines or add your own editorial comments. Ask for clarification if you need it. Assume that the person has a positive or neutral intention and isn't purposely trying to hurt you.
2. Recognize that 2020 has been a hard year for all of us. Between a global pandemic, the election and everything in between…many of us are exhausted and overwhelmed. While we may have very different thoughts and feelings about all of these issues we have one thing in common: it’s been a rough year. It may be beneficial to keep your interactions surface level with some family members. A family holiday gathering is probably not the best time to discuss your political thoughts. It’s ok to keep the conversations light and save the difficult conversations for another time.
3. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries. We all have that family member who purposely tries to stir the pot or bring up controversial topics. It’s OK to firmly and clearly state what you are and are not willing to discuss. It’s also OK to leave the room if those boundaries aren’t respected. Just because it’s a holiday doesn’t give others permission to disregard our boundaries.
4. Allow yourself to feel what you feel and grieve the things that are different this year. You may be experiencing grief over not practicing your normal traditions, not being able to gather with family, etc. Give yourself space to feel those emotions and recognize they are normal. Consider making some new traditions for this year.
5. Practice gratitude. In the midst of difficult times there are still things to be grateful for. It can be easy to focus on all of the changes or losses and lose sight of our blessings. Take a moment to list the things you are grateful for this season. Even in 2020 there are things to be thankful for, we just might have to look a little closer to see them!
As we wrap up the year and look forward to 2021 we likely have a wide range of emotions. Hopefully these tips will help you navigate this season a little easier. Merry Christmas from the Encompass family!
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.