As the holiday season rolls in, it brings a mix of joy, celebration, and a healthy dose of stress. Working in mediation, I’ve seen firsthand how this time of year can stir up a whirlwind of emotions. It’s like navigating through different genres in a playlist, each with its unique rhythm and beat. To find balance in the holidays, it’s important to remember the value of setting healthy boundaries, especially for those from large families or with shared traditions among friends and chosen family. These boundaries are not just good for maintaining a positive outlook but essential for mental health. Self-care is about giving yourself the space and time to recharge and rejuvenate.
Imagine you’re in the midst of holiday preparations, striving for that perfect, festive atmosphere. The house is buzzing; your favorite tunes – perhaps a blend of Laufey’s soothing melodies and Frank Sinatra’s classics – set the backdrop. Suddenly, amid this picture-perfect scene, a family debate erupts, throwing a curveball into your seamless plans.
In these moments, we must remind ourselves that it’s not about the perfect dinner or winning an argument. It’s about cherishing the people around us, and embracing their quirks and differences. At our core, we all seek connection and belonging. Staying respectful during conversations, much like a mediator fostering neutrality, allows everyone to feel included and valued.
Reframing Expectations: A Path to Better Mental Health
Stress often stems from our expectations. We chase an ideal holiday image, but real life is not a scripted story – it’s more akin to jazz, full of improvisation and unexpected turns. If the turkey’s a tad overcooked or the gifts aren’t quite right, remember, these aren’t catastrophes. In fact, they often become the anecdotes we cherish later. It’s about finding the joy in the moment, rekindling childlike excitement for fun and laughter.
Why not indulge in that sappy holiday rom-com or treat yourself to your favorite festive candle? These simple pleasures, though small, can have a profound impact on our mood. By letting go of rigid expectations, we open ourselves to the spontaneous magic of the season.
Community: Cultivating a Safe and Inclusive Space
As a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I know that holidays can sometimes be tough. Creating a welcoming space where everyone can be themselves, embracing diversity and inclusion, is more important than ever. The most valuable gift we can offer is our presence – being there for someone as a listener or a source of support. For those who might not have traditional family gatherings, being invited into a community can be a heartwarming and deeply meaningful gesture.
So, as we spread holiday cheer, let’s remember the impact of our actions, even the seemingly small ones, like a kind word to a stranger. These acts of connection and kindness can truly make a difference.
Self-Care Reflection: Embracing the Little Joys
In the spirit of kindness and inclusion, let’s not forget the importance of self-care. It’s the small things, like getting lost in a good book or taking a peaceful walk, that replenish our spirits. Self-care is not a luxury; it’s essential. You can’t pour from an empty cup, as the saying goes. So, go ahead and indulge in those delicious holiday treats. Let’s approach this holiday season with kindness towards ourselves and others, remembering that the true essence of the holidays lies in the connections we make and the small acts of kindness we share.
Stay safe, be kind, and let’s fill this holiday season with more smiles than stress.
For more information about family mediation or our other services, contact West Coast Family Mediation Center or call us directly at 858-736-2411.
By: Anthony Snead, Mediation Coordinator