5 tips for remaining resilient these holidays
For the fortunate, the Christmas and New Year holidays are a time of celebration, festivity and quality time with family.
But for many, the holidays are a time of loneliness, anxiety and stress. Traditionally a time of companionship, the Christmas holidays can bring up painful memories and add social pressure to already struggling families. Stress reduces our ability to connect with others empathically; consequently, we may be around our family and friends, without forming any meaningful connections. You may be with your entire extended family yet still feel isolated and lonely.
The good news about adversity is that it breeds resilience if you learn from it. Resilience is a skill that can be developed over time and knowing that we have the ability to bounce back and can keep going amidst adversity, is reassuring. Families can draw upon these skills to build successful strategies to bounce back after challenging times.
Savour the moment
Too often we can become so caught up in the regret of a past action or the anxiousness of the future that we forget to enjoy what is happening in the present. The holidays are all about spending quality time with family, and studies have shown that people who have an ability to savour positive experiences have higher resilience and life satisfaction.1
Focus on having a positive outlook
It’s natural to focus on everything that’s going wrong when you’re stressed. But that often leads to forgetting all the positive things going on at the same time. A negative focus often leads to negative language, which creates a perpetuating cycle of negativity. The key to promoting resilience lies in the ability to find a silver lining in even the worst of circumstances. Neuroscience techniques focus on challenging your reflexive thoughts, and positive self-talk to help un-adapt from learned behaviours.
Know your strengths
How often do we focus on our own weaknesses? We become so focused on what we believe we can’t do, or what we aren’t good at, that our self-esteem erodes. An effective resilience program fosters the belief that every person has the potential to use their uniquely gained strengths and capabilities in a positive way and that they will not be defined or limited by their past actions or circumstances. A strengths based approach to resilience building does not focus on deficits but on capabilities. The starting point is always “what’s right with people”, not “what’s wrong”.
Ask for support and be the support
Remember that you're only human, and humans are far from perfect. Feeling a range of emotions like sadness, loneliness, anxiety or stress at Christmas time is normal. Don’t feel like you are burdened with those feelings alone. Instead, reach out and ask for support from a trusted friend or mate, you may find they are going through the same feelings. Being able to support people yourself and offer assistance through their own times can also help you to get a new perspective on the issues that may be troubling you. Never be afraid to ask your GP to refer you to a good counsellor or psychologist either, it’s all part of their commitment to your health.
Look after yourself
If you want to, be selfish these holidays. Write a list of activities that help free your mind and give your body and soul a feel good buzz. Go to the beach, wander a museum, walk, swim, meditate, dance, sing, do some gardening, eat healthy foods, write, draw, having a bath, or socialise with some friends who lift your spirits. These are all activities shown to increase serotonin levels in the body and stimulate a physical happiness response. The most important thing these holidays is to take care of yourself. To be a role model to someone else, you must first be a role model for yourself.
Life for any family includes ups and downs, challenges and unexpected twists and turns in the road. A family’s ability to negotiate this journey depends on the skills they are working on along the way. Drawing upon these resilience program techniques will help you to remain positive and resilient over the holiday period for yourself, and for your family.