Whether newly married or recently celebrating your tenth anniversary, the holiday season never fails to ignite a variety and range of emotions. The holidays are supposed to be a time filled with joyous and heartfelt moments, spent with family, friends, presents, food, and of course cookies and milk. Keyword, “supposed.” This season is often associated with being stressed, anxious, and the inevitable dread of spending time with their significant other’s family. Just hearing the word turkey or Michael Bublé, or even the faintest whiff of peppermint is enough to jumpstart your survival instincts – fight or flight mode activated. It does not and should not be this way; this should be a time that generates excitement, not anxiety. Getting organized and prepared for the season enables you to disarm that survival instinct and allows you to enjoy this upcoming yuletide with your in-laws.
As many individuals get ready to embark on the journey of matrimony, there is a critical piece often overlooked. When we say our heartfelt and genuine I do’s to our partner, we are not only committing to our partner, but we vow and commit ourselves to their family as well. So, love em’, or hate em’ even if you successfully avoid them the first ten months of the year, you are bound to have to face them the remainder of the year.
Banish the Bah-Humbug Belief
As you think, so you become.
A concept many people are unaware of is that one way or another, your mind influences your reality, as you think, so you become. Suppose you spend the year prematurely dreading the anticipated stress and anxiety of the holiday season, indubitably. In that case, you will engage in hyper-focusing on this feeling of dread as the season approaches. The most extraordinary power you have is the power of thought. We can use them to manifest our desires and create happiness, but they also can destroy us and create negativity. As the holiday season quickly approaches this year, take a moment to sit down and think about gathering with your in-laws in a positive light. Light your favorite holiday-scented candle, and plan out what your ideal festive season looks like, and speak it into reality. Envision it down to the tiniest details, the decorations, the food, the weather, all the things that make up your vision of a perfect holiday. Watch it come to fruition as the season unfolds.
Put the ‘Happy’ back in “Happy Holidays”
Prioritize yourself and your wellness during this part of the year. Nothing adds to the season’s stresses like feeling overwhelmed and under the weather; it is the hap-happiest season of all, anyway!
Should you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, take some time for yourself and retreat. Perhaps this takes place in the evening when you pamper yourself with an indulgent skin-care routine and a glass of your favorite wine. Or, when you finally get a chance to change out of the day’s wardrobe and overworked contacts and slip on those warm winter jammies and comfortable prescription glasses before diving into your favorite book.
Finding and creating a routine that helps you relax and unwind is essential to your self-care. Something as simple as bringing yourself to a calming state of mind and taking a deep breath can have a substantial impact on your mental well-being. Close your eyes and meditate for 5 minutes. Practice gratitude, dedicate some time to look around you and point out things you are grateful for in your life and in that moment. The holidays will not last forever; 1 day out of 365 is nothing you can’t handle. Believe in yourself.
You may feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders to pull off the perfect holiday gathering, down to your best rendition of grandma’s stuffing (FYI, no one can do it like grandma, don’t beat yourself up over it). Rid yourself of the notion that it is all your fault if the day does not go off smoothly. This idea is unrealistic and probably deep-rooted in your anxieties over the holidays. It is not your burden to do everything and make every single person happy. Sit down with your partner and discuss the expectations you want to set in place for the next few weeks. If visiting your in-laws, discuss what others will expect of you, how you can contribute, and how your partner can be available for you emotionally. Discuss any anxieties or worries that may help your partner understand the best way to be there for you. If you are having your in-laws over, lay the groundwork for how you and your partner can make this a team effort, who will cook, who will clean and decorate. Setting expectations can help both you and your partner understand what to expect from one another and hold each other accountable for doing so. Please, don’t leave it up to chance, don’t put it off till the last minute, and release the burden of how the holidays turn out. The mix of people, traditions, feelings (and in some case alcohol) means that there will be plenty of credit – and also blame – to go around.
Even though sometimes it might feel like your in-laws are out to get you, they probably aren’t. Remember that these people raised the person you decided to spend the rest of your life with, so they must have been doing something right. You saw something in this person that was a result of their upbringing. And one day down the road, you might turn out to be an in-law yourself. Treat your in-laws the way that you hope to be in the future. You are sure to make it out with your holiday cheer, relationship intact, and without a new year’s resolution that includes making up with your in-laws.