Today I’m going to teach you the tools to not only survive the holiday season with your family but to thrive through that season with my Three-Step Process.

Step One: Be Prepared Before You Go

There are 3 specific things you need to do before you walk into that holiday gathering:

  1. Have an exit plan. Have a clear boundary about how long you’ll be there before you arrive.
  2. Set Intention before you walk in. I’ve said a lot about setting intention, which I also call the 18-Second Shift. For a refresher, you can check out this quick video all about it.
  3. Be ready with fun topics. If the conversation goes south, you want to be able to change the subject quickly and easily. So, have some stories or questions ready in your mind.

Step Two: Be Prepared When You’re There

  1. Calming Anchor. One of my favorite tools in the world is a Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) technique called anchoring. I’ve adapted this to something I call the Calming Anchor (see below). Practice it for five minutes a day for one week before the holidays and you’ll have an easy-to-use tool to calm yourself in seconds.
  2. Check in with yourself often. So set a reminder on your phone for every 30 minutes while you’re at a gathering and check in with yourself when you hear that tone.
  3. Take a time out. Take some breaks to get yourself away if things are feeling stressful.
  4. Don’t drink or eat too much. In any kind of potentially stressful situation, it’s important to keep your wits about you. Try not to check out and to be as present as possible.

Step Three: What to do After:

  1. Review. Identify two positive things that happened at the gathering and two things you’d like to improve.
  2. Work on Forgiveness. At the end of the day, we often need to work on forgiveness with our families, partners, friends, and ourselves. You can work on this yourself or check out my Master Class on Forgiveness.
  3. Get help. It’s always great to seek out professional help if you have ongoing issues with your family or mental health at these types of events.

Resources and Links:

Eve Ekman, “How to Survive the Holiday Shmear,” Greater Good Science Center, December 21, 2018.

Forgiveness Master Class!


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