Braving the Holidays: 4 Strategies to Take the Edge Off

November 10, 2018

For many, the holidays are filled with quiet moments, sitting by the fire, sipping cocoa while the children blissfully build snowmen outside…

...or so the advertisements would lead us to believe!

Yes, the holidays can be joyful, AND at other times, filled with stress, guilt, and overwhelm.

But there’s hope! Dr. Brené Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection, highlights key strategies that people use to build resilience to stress, and specifically shame. Shame is the “intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging”. For many, holiday shame triggers are as plentiful as ornaments on a tree.

How to Stay Strong this Holiday Season

From dealing with the overbearing mother-in-law to struggling with holiday finances, you can use these four strategies to build resilience.

1. Notice the physiological sensations

What feelings come over you when you feel shame? Say you’re at the checkout with your holiday gifts and your card is declined. What happens in your body?

2. Build critical awareness

Cultural messages try to tell you what you, your family, and your holiday ‘should’ look like (insert images of trees perfectly decorated with an abundance of gifts while the coiffed mother serves homemade cookies to her obedient children).

Instead of believing them, remind yourself that these messages are just marketing tactics. This reality check gives you back the power to create holiday traditions that are more meaningful and true to your values.

3. Reach out

Who are your people, your go-tos that show you empathy and compassion when you need to talk about being broke, scared or stressed? Call them!

4. Speak shame

Like the name Voldemort (for you Harry Potter fans), the emotion ‘that shall not be named’ loses its power when you speak about it. You need to speak shame out loud to those who have earned the right to hear your story for it to lose its grip. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

By following these four steps, you can make holiday choices that feel more authentic and meaningful. Have courage dear one. I wish you a holiday season as beautifully unique as you are!

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Cate is a mother of three, professional life coach and Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator - Candidate living in Nelson, BC. She is dedicated to facilitating the work of Dr. Brené Brown so that others may step into the arena of life with courage and resilience. Learn more or connect with Cate through her website, Facebook and Instagram.

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