The holidays are a time for rest and relaxation – if you can find a minute between making travel arrangements, hosting family and friends visiting from out-of-town, and finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list! The stresses that inevitably accompany the holidays can be especially challenging for individuals with intensities. To help you embrace the spirit of the holidays and ensure that everyone has a merry time (even you!), here are a few tips for surviving the upcoming snowstorm.
Designate quiet time and spaces
Many gifted children and adults identify as introverts and gather energy from time spent alone. Add sensual intensities into the mix and this quiet time becomes even more important. When expecting a full house for the holidays, plan ahead and make sure that everyone has a safe haven to retreat to and time to recharge before jumping into the next group activity.
Divide and conquer
You don’t need unanimous participation to plan activities for a large crew. Have different options available to meet a wide variety of interests. Maybe a group will go sledding for an afternoon while another stays home and plays a strategic board game. There will be plenty of time to catch up over dinner and more stories to share after a day of multiple adventures!
Start a new tradition
Family traditions can be fun, but sometimes the pressures of recreating happy memories can overwhelm the excitement of celebrating now. If a tradition is creating more stress than satisfaction, now may be the perfect time to consider starting a new tradition that helps you and your family maintain your sanity. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to…
If you’re tired of being the “wet blanket” or constantly finding yourself outside of your comfort zone, try suggesting an activity that you love to the rest of the group and volunteer to arrange the details. By initiating group plans you can have better control over the where, when, and how without having to make excuses or sit one out. Plus, if everyone ends up loving it as much as you do, you may have just started a new holiday tradition that everyone can help plan next year!
If you are the guest
Remember that you control the duration of your visit. Decide how long is long enough and stick to it. The holidays are a busy time for everyone; hopefully your family or friends will understand that you and your family’s time is valuable and will appreciate that you’ve elected to share some of it with them. If you are able, consider staying at a hotel and/or renting your own car. Having a space that you can retreat to and get a good night’s sleep will make your visit much more enjoyable, as will the freedom to come and go as you please.
Surround yourself with good cheer
Seek out the people in your life who make you feel better and avoid those who contribute to feelings of anxiety and unhappiness. Since the holidays are filled with obligations, you may find yourself in close proximity with one of your “trigger-people,” but that is all the more reason to block out time to spend with the people who make you feel good and whole. Remember, balance is key.
Physical activity releases endorphins in the brain and can be an instant pick-me-up. Plus, by scheduling time to exercise, you’re also designating “me-time” to recharge away from the stressful people and situations that abound. This is especially important for children with psychomotor intensity.
Don’t set unreasonable expectations for yourself
When everyone around you is singing about “being merry” and “goodwill toward men,” it can be easy to chastise yourself for feelings of stress and unhappiness. Remember that it is okay to acknowledge these (totally rational) feelings and that you don’t always have to be “on.” Allow yourself time to feel sad, overwhelmed, or frustrated so that you can move on and celebrate during the moments that count.
Don’t have unrealistic expectations of others
Albert Einstein once said, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” You know your friends and family – don’t expect them to change just because the air’s a bit chillier and the department stores are decorated. Know what to expect from your loved ones over the holidays, and you’ll be better able to prepare for when you see them. And if you’re pleasantly surprised by a helpful gesture or newfound sensitivity, so much the better!
Remember why you’re putting yourself through all this
The holidays can be stressful, but there’s a reason why we do it every year. This season is a time for compassion, so try to exercise that last bit of patience in the face of frustration. If you are opening your home to extended friends and family, remember that you don’t often get the opportunity to see them and that, before you know it, their visit will be over and you will be missing them again.