3 Tips to Manage Holiday Emotions

Bring more light into your world

No matter what tradition you observe during this time of year, you are likely to experience a roller-coaster effect on your emotions. Entertaining, buying the right gifts, office parties, and family get-togethers all trigger a range of emotions that are different in each of us.

I know I experience the roller coaster. My emotions can take me out if I am not paying attention. For example, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving with our daughter, son-in-law and grandson. They were also here for my birthday, which was doubly delightful. Then they had to go home, so I experienced emptiness.

On the upswing, our son and daughter-in-law are coming for Christmas, for which I am grateful and excited.

However, I am anxious about entertaining during the holidays. I always want everything to be a little ‘better’ than I can make it, and a little prettier on the decorations, whatever ‘better’ and ‘prettier’ appear to be.

Am I really this neurotic?

Somehow I expect myself to show up at parties looking the best, being witty and charming and generally being the life of the party. When I start into that emotional spin, I realize my perfectionist nature is trying to take charge.

Sometimes my expectations during the holidays drive me crazy. Am I crazy or do you experience a similar swing in emotions?

So this morning I woke up thinking about emotional intelligence and how much I’ve learned about increasing my awareness and usage of the skills over the last few years. I know I can create my holiday experiences to be more joyful and peaceful based on my choices.

3 Emotional Intelligence Strategies You Can Use

Based on that thought, I want to offer you three tips you can use if you experience emotions that limit your joy, whether it be stress, anxiety, fear, overwhelm or sadness.

  1. OPTIMISM – For many people sadness during the holidays is very real. To increase your feelings of optimism, which helps you work through stressful situations, remain hopeful and stay resilient, there are three things that are helpful.

– First, remember the good holiday experiences you’ve had and focus on those

– Second, take time to think through what type of experience you want to have during the holidays. How do you want to show up? Are you sharing your gifts with others?

– Third, engage your senses. Add more light, diffuse an essential oil, or listen to your favorite music are three things that will lift your mood.

Life feels good when you are optimistic.

  1. REALITY-TESTING/seeing things as they really are – This is simply the ability to remain objective and not overreact or make bad decisions in certain situations. This definitely is more difficult during the holidays with all the events, parties and responsibilities that we expect ourselves to manage.

Do I really need that piece of cheesecake?

For me, I know I need to use more Reality-Testing skills when I am faced with a beautiful plate of cookies, candy and desserts. Can I really eat what I want and not gain weight? That’s a fantasy of mine, and I need to be more realistic about eating during the holidays.

Another way to be more realistic during the holidays is to make lists and check them twice. Post a big calendar with your commitments on it and post where you can easily see it. This will help you manage your time and decide what you can and can’t do.

  1. STRESS TOLERANCE – When you are able to manage your own stress, it is good for you and everyone around you. When you let your stress run your emotions, your reactions and your actions, everyone around you feels it too.

Increasing stress tolerance is a journey. Stress tolerance means you can effectively cope with stressful or difficult situations.

What triggers your stress?

A few years ago, we had an ice storm in our area, which prevented us from driving to my brother’s house for Christmas dinner. I cherish these occasions and really wanted our family to play with our new grandson. We decided the roads would be too icy to drive with a newborn. So I was disappointed and sad, but a good walk in the snow helped me balance my perspective and come back home cheerful and relaxed.

What can you do to increase your tolerance and patience during stressful situations? Deep breathing, getting fresh air, or a visit with a friend are a few ways to add simple joys to your holidays. The more you fill yourself with love and joyful experiences, the more you can be that for others and not let your stress drive your thoughts, actions and speech.

I wish you a joy-filled, peaceful season of light and love.

Note: Emotional Intelligence skills and definitions are from EQ-i 2.0™ of MHS Assessments. I am a certified practitioner of the MHS EQ-i 2.0.

© Kathy Garland 2015