The meaning and experience of the holidays varies widely for everyone.   Expectations may conflict with our actual experience.   For me personally, I approach the season the same as I would any event, athletic or professional, and prepare myself.

In true “Spiral Impact” form I have four reflective questions followed with my insights.  I hope these will be helpful for you to create a ‘Centered Holiday’ experience.
♦What is your story about this time of year?  And, in your heart of hearts is that the story you want to create?   
Some examples: “I love getting together with family and friends.” “I’d like to fast forward and get this dreadful season over.”  “This is the saddest time of year.”  “I hate this time of year.” “I like how the world unplugs and look forward to time to reflect.” “I enjoy spreading good cheer, I find it gives me joy.”   Do you feel joy when you tell your story?  If not, change your story.  Don’t want to change your story? That’s okay too. 
♦What is your plan to take care of yourself physically and emotionally?
It is dark really early and schedules are full, or empty.  Funny thing how easy it is to stop doing those things that support our well-being, when we need our best selves the most.  Scheduling time for exercise, meditation, walking in nature or whatever supports you is essential. Naps are great too!  Give to yourself first so you have physical and emotional energy reserves.  Note, excessive consumption of alcohol and food can sabotage your efforts – just sayin’.
♦What is your plan for those difficult relationships or conversations you may encounter?
Intention is so important with difficult relationships.  Think through both your intent for the relationship and the conversation before you engage. You don’t have to agree on everything in every relationship.  If you have big differences with relatives the intent may be to preserve family bonds. If your intent is to change this person’s beliefs or behaviors – watch out!  With the political climate so intense right now, intending to change another person’s point of view at a holiday gathering is likely to go south. If your intent is centered curiosity to understand different viewpoints, that can work. ‘Centered’ is the operative word there!   Applying all Spiral Impact keys will be your best bet for honorable conversation — that is in the book!

Also, I find it helps to focus on what I value about the person, rather than what annoys me!
♦What is your plan if extreme emotions come up?  
If you are set with the first three questions, you will be prepared as best you can.  However, things still happen.  If anger comes up, know that it is rare to dump anger and build relationships.  Acknowledge the anger by saying, “I value our relationship and I think it’s best if we pause before we continue this conversation.”   Anger can be dissipated through physical activity, writing, talking with someone that has a calm presence, or time (a good night’s sleep helps).  

On the other end of the spectrum, what about sadness,  loneliness, grief?  These feelings are common this time of year.  Everyone processes emotions differently.  Physical activity, doing something for someone else, journaling, conscious deliberate breathing, watching a good movie all can help move your energy.  It is also okay to cry. Remember you are not alone in your feelings. Reach out!

If you know someone who is experiencing grief – reach out!

Thank you for your readership this year!  All the best to you now and always,  Karen