Saturday, November 13, 2010

How to Survive the Holidays

Usually when my clients are asking about this, they are talking about going home for the holidays, but it can be equally difficult when your family is coming to you.

If family holidays are at best stressful and at worst they repeat that bad stuff that happened when you lived there, here are some ways to make a holiday visit as healthy as possible for you.

If you're currently getting neurofeedback training it's a good idea to go home with your brain "tuned up."  Scheduling a session for right after you get back can be very helpful, too, especially if you have jet lag to deal with. And here are six non-neurofeedback tips on how to survive holidays at home.
  • Make sure you get time away from the house. Go for a walk, run an errand, see a movie. This may be easier when you're the visitor instead of the host or hostess, but sometimes just five minutes alone in the backyard or the back room can help.

  • Have a support person lined up. That could be a good friend from where you live now, ready to remind you over the phone that you have a life outside your family. Get psychotherapy if you need it.  (Many therapists will make a phone appointment with you during an out of town visit.)

  • If you are the visitor and there are people you like who live in the same town or city as your family, make plans to see them on your own during the visit. The idea is to have some time away from your relations.  Or you may have a sibling or cousin with whom you have fun getting away from everyone else for awhile.

  • Conduct an experiment: Study your family members as if you were meeting them for the first time. This will give you some helpful distance and perspective. And it can be surprising.

  • Remember: You are not your family; you are a separate person.
If you haven't done neurofeedback yet, it can be extremely helpful in navigating any stressful situation. Old learned reactions to stress drop away as the brain becomes more resilient and flexible.

Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
New York Neurofeedback

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