Thanksgiving is this week and are you feeling thankful for the amazing bounty that is your life, or are you dreading the inevitably stressful family dynamics that you self-medicate by tryptophan-induced drowsiness?
Resilience is how emotionally agile you are, or, in other words, how well you manage stress. Resilient people worry less, are mindful, are open, bounce back from setbacks, are kind, have flexibility, and have a strong social fabric.
Holidays are a great time to make note of our personality characteristics because they can be just so… triggering. How does one foster resiliency during the holidays?
1. Be positive. Specifically at a 3:1 ratio (or better) of positive emotions to negative emotions. If you are feeling particularly negative (your family is driving you bonkers) then you can do an experiment where you list all the things that are good in your life (that you are living and not dead, good health, fun pets, family that you still talk to, a roof over your head, the delicious turkey in your belly). This may turn your emotions more positive even under stress. Also, if you expect things to work out in general, your deep optimism can have a synergistic effect and create balance in an unstable situation.
2. Know your boundaries. If every year you go crazy spending 24/7 with your family, then don’t! Check into a hotel instead of your sister’s house, or go out to a nightclub after dinner instead of hanging out and irritating each other. The more aware you are of your boundaries and priorities, the better you can take preventative action to avoid getting negatively triggered. That said, being mentally and emotionally adaptable and flexible (versus rigidity) can be very helpful in the quest for a pleasurable holiday.
3. Encourage balance. It’s easy to go overboard on the food and neglect the exercise during the holidays or otherwise get imbalanced. Understand your priorities for yourself, your job, family, nutrition, exercise, self-renewal etc. and see if it makes sense to set aside those priorities during the holiday or stay consistent with them. Take time for yourself and do your favorite stress management activity (deep breathing, meditation, yoga, exercise etc.) for a few minutes — it may help foster the joy and abundance that holidays are supposed to celebrate.
Check out more ideas to develop resiliency here.