Navigating the Holidays


As the holidays approach, we are bombarded with media images of happy people at festive gatherings. And, yes those are lovely images. You may or may not have experienced this Norman Rockwell portrait of the holidays. More likely yours were somewhere in between. Whatever your history, the holidays CAN be a happy time or, at least satisfying, without creating guilt or causing pain. 


Food, in all customs, is a big part of celebrating. Many of us struggle with a history of “over doing it” during the holidays. Family dynamics can be triggers for unwanted behavior. The good news is, is that you can create what you want and not “overdo it” by putting the focus where it belongs, on you.


Remember what the purpose of the gathering is. It is NOT family therapy or the time to rehash the past. If there are unhealed wounds, work through those at a later time with someone you trust in a safe place. 


Set your intention before you go to have a pleasant time and keep your attention on this. Having a plan on how to manage your emotions is important. Taking time outs and sticking to time commitments is helpful. 


When triggers arise or you notice tension in your body take a few deep breathes, go outside and get grounded. Remember your intention and leave when you want. Planning ahead is great self-care.


Eat and drink what you like. Give yourself at least 20 minutes between second helpings. Practice saying “No, thank you”. It’s your body, treat it with respect.


The practice of responding to others and your triggers, rather than reacting, is a life- long journey. Remember that you get to manage your thoughts, emotions and behaviors and no body elses. You are in charge of you. Be curious about how you can best manage yourself and have a happy holiday.

joan matlock