tips to stay sane in the holidays

How to save your sanity this holiday season

“Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.” – George Bernard Shaw 

The holiday season can bring a lot of joy, but it can also mean stress and – for some of us – family drama. If this is the case for you it’s important to take steps to preserve your personal sanity in the midst of the chaos.

Below are four strategies for preventing others from hijacking your joy.

1) Consider the source and be compassionate.

When someone is being critical, cruel, or just generally jerky, it’s possible this person is projecting their own unhappiness onto you. Before drowning in self-doubt or getting angry, try having compassion for that person’s suffering. Think to yourself, “I’m sorry this person is struggling so much that they need to lash out like this.” This does not mean that you are condoning bad behavior, but rather you are choosing to feel compassion for another’s suffering instead of personalizing their pain.

2) Focus on what you can control.

You may not be able to control what other people say or do but you can control your reaction. Focus your energy on the things you do have the power to change, remembering that the other person’s behavior is not one of those things. When provoked, rather than engage in the drama, do something that helps you preserve your sanity – leave the room, change the subject, go for a walk, call a friend, or take 10 deep breaths. Do what makes you feel good. Remember, tug of war requires two people. Just because someone else pulls the rope, doesn’t mean you have to pull back. Instead just try putting the rope down.

arm yourself with positivity to stay sane in the holidays

3) Override the brain’s negativity bias by focusing on positive experiences

Unfortunately, our brains are hardwired to focus on the negative, it’s called the negativity bias. But we can counter this bias by purposefully directing our attention to taking in the good. Arming yourself with positivity makes it harder for your mind to focus on the negative. When you find yourself having a positive experience with someone, let yourself savor it instead of immediately moving along to the next thing. Really try to acknowledge it and take it in. Another helpful strategy is to focus on what is working instead of what isn’t. When you notice yourself caught in a loop about everything that is going wrong, try pausing and asking yourself what is going right and offer up some gratitude for those things.

4) Ground yourself each day with meditation.

Start your day with a short meditation to get yourself grounded. One of meditation’s proven benefits is increased emotional equanimity — the ability to respond, instead of react.

Take a compassionate moment to reflect and commit to:

  • Believing in yourself and your worth
  • Granting the same compassion you give to others to yourself
  • Having gratitude for all the good in you and your life

This grounding process will help you maintain balance as you move through the rest of your day.

So if you find yourself triggered this holiday season try one of these strategies to assist you in preserving your sanity and your joy.

Be well and happy holidays,


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