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6 Tips to Create Resilience at Family Holiday Gatherings

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

Are you nervous about upcoming family holiday gatherings? Whether you get along with your family great, or not so great, or somewhere in between, any family gathering can be stressful.

Here's 6 quick tips to help you stay centered and resilient!

This is especially valuable if you identify as an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), Empath or Introvert.

NEWSFLASH: you don't have to abandon yourself at family holiday gatherings! (repeat as needed!)

Tip #1

Know your boundaries beforehand

What are you available for at the gathering? What are you not available for? Similarly, know what you have capacity for and don't have capacity for. Lovingly decline the things you don't have capacity for: "Thank you for the invite, but that just doesn't work for me."...But I realy want you to do the thing! ..."I hear that, and it's a no for me." Smile, breathe, and excuse yourself to the bathroom.

When you know ahead of time what you will or will not want to do, you can take better care of yourself as you stick to your "no." Or, you can decide in the moment that you actually do want to do the thing, or you realize you do, in fact, have capacity for it. That's much more empowering than not knowing where your lines are until you've already gone waaaay past them.

Tip #2

Start preparing now for your comfort!

What do you need in order to feel rested and resourced during your/their visit? What comfort items would be helpful? What self-care tools, techniques, etc do you need to make sure you stay capable of interacting with your family for a few days in a row? In other words, especially if you're traveling, what comfort items will help assuage the fact that you will be out of your comfort zone for a few days?

Tip #3

Make the trip more "you-friendly"

This piggybacks on the previous tip. Ask yourself, "what would make this experience more me-friendly?" Perhaps it's driving instead of flying, or vice versa. Perhaps it's bringing you emotional support animal. Perhaps it's bringing that comfort item you feel sheepish about bringing. Maybe it's renting a car so you have a way to get away. Or, perhaps it's choosing a hotel instead of the family home, especially if you need spaciousness and quietude in your holiday.


Plan Your Escape!

Have ideas in mind for how you can get away from it all and do your own thing for a while. It can be ideal for calming your nervous system to treat yourself to natural settings to recharge and enjoy some fresh air in natural scenery. Or you can offer to run errands. Perhaps you want to go to a coffee shop for a leisurely morning, or maybe you just need to take a nap with some lavender oil on your temples and/ or relaxing music. Statistics have shown that one of the busiest days of the year at movie theaters is the day after Christmas. There's a reason for that--people need to get away for a while!

Tip #5

Focus on the Positive

With all the chaos that family and holiday gatherings can generate, it's valid to remind yourself of why you all are gathering in the first place, and what you love about your people. Take a moment to think about this now. Do it again while en ruote. These are the things to focus on when being around them becomes challenging.

Tip #6

Tweak, Rinse, and Repeat!

After the gathering, do a debrief with yourself to review what happened, how you handled it, and how you feel afterwards. Tweak what needs to be tweaked and be sure to write down what made this gathering successful or unsuccessful, so you can make a solid plan for the next gathering. Then give yourself some much deserved unstructured downtime and rest.

Wishing you the best and most resilient holiday season!


Want more resilience in your life? If you’re an overwhelmed Sensitive struggling just to survive in the world with no idea how to cultivate resilience, you might be interested in my coaching program, The Dance of Resilience. Book a call.


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