5 Ways To Practice Self-Compassion When Feeling Overwhelmed During The Holidays



Dec. 10 2020, Published 6:10 a.m. ET

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The holidays are upon us, some of us dread it and some of us can’t get enough of it. Most times we feel like we just don’t have enough time to prep for the holidays and then we don’t have enough time to enjoy the holidays.

We wanted to share how you can relieve some of the stress of the holidays by focusing on self-compassion. 

It is normal to feel overwhelmed with guilt trying to meet everyone’s needs during the holiday season. However, it is important to know that it is impossible to please everyone despite wanting to. Do you talk negatively to yourself when things don’t work out how you thought they would? It may be helpful to operate in a space of self-compassion. 

Be Kind to Yourself

Self Compassion, explained by Dr. Kristin Neff, “involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a “stiff upper lip” mentality, you stop to tell yourself “this is really difficult right now,” how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?”

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Studies from the University of Wisconsin show that “meditation cultivates compassion and kindness, affecting brain regions that make you more empathetic to other people. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the researchers discovered that positive emotions such as loving-kindness and compassion can be developed in the same way as playing a musical instrument or being proficient in a sport.” It is amazing to know we can actually change our brain function by speaking more highly of ourselves.

Use these 5 steps to create a stress-free holiday season for the entire family: 

1. Acknowledge That Everything Doesn’t Need To Be Perfect

It is a lesson learned and not a waste of time. Reframe the conversation. Too often we focus on the negative side of imperfection when there is always a lesson to be learned. Look for the lesson and focus on your strengths in the midst of it all. Know that it is ok, things happen, and although everything won’t be perfect, you still get to spend time with your loved ones. We spend so much time preparing for the day that we miss the moments of love and laughs with loved ones.

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2. Practice Gratitude In The Moment

Before you get overwhelmed create a plan to find the silver lining in the moments ahead.  Having a gratitude plan can look different for everyone. In the moment try writing down three things you are grateful for. This will help ground you and bring perspective. I find it helpful to schedule gratitude reminders in my calendar for random times throughout the day. When we operate in gratitude we can see a moment for what it truly is and express appreciation. 

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3. Eliminate Negative Self-Talk 

Getting down on yourself not only makes you feel bad, but it also changes your brain function. According to a 2014 study by the University of California at Berkeley; “psychologists conducted a series of studies showing that positive affirmations function as “cognitive expanders,” bringing a wider perspective to diffuse the brain’s tunnel vision of self-threats. Their findings show that affirmations help us transcend the zoom-lens mode by engaging the wide-angle lens of the mind. Self-affirmations helped research participants cultivate a long-distance relationship with their judgmental voice and see themselves more fully in a broader self-view, bolstering their self-worth.” Negative self-talk leads to depression, low self-esteem, and stops you from seeing the bigger picture.

4. Don’t Make Assumptions

In his bestselling book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz shares that assumption leads to stress. He adds that an increase in personal conflict, as we assume what others are thinking and view it as a fact, contributes as well. As Myleik Teele always says, “Feelings are not facts!” We have a tendency to judge others based on their actions and ourselves based on our intentions. Knowing this we must give grace. In doing so we open the door to seek understanding in the midst of conflict by asking questions. Once we ask questions and get answers, we can then make sound decisions based on the information given. If nothing else, may this one tip help dissolve any family drama because you vow to exercise this principle.

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5. Be Kind To Yourself 

If you wouldn’t do it to someone you love, then don’t do it to yourself. The more self-compassion you give yourself the more you will be able to give others without even thinking about it. Be kind to yourself.

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