Balance during Christmas Family Celebrations

Christmas holidays are a wonderful time to reconnect with our family. However, this is not always easy and often brings conflicts and mixed emotions. We love our family and want to see them, but spending time together around Christmas may be very challenging.

Do you ever feel a family member is driving you crazy? Do find yourself slipping into “your old self” with low self-esteem or insecurities? Do you sometimes feel you have never left home??!

Family dynamics are tricky! Certain comments may trigger certain reactions. For example, if someone makes a remark about your hair colour or about the fact that you are still single, you may be angry or frustrated or you may feel rejected or sad. Often our reactions are habitual, and they are not only expressed on an emotional level, but manifest physically as well. Without noticing it, we may tense up our neck and shoulders, we may hold our breath or our chest feels tight.

How to make the family festivities more enjoyable? How to get out of those same old patterns?

It is helpful to be able to pause between what is going on or what is being said and your reactions.

Victor Frankl puts it like this:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”

One way to create that pause is to come back to your body. Just going with your attention to your physical body gets you out of the reactive mode and opens the way for something new.

Notice your neck. Allow the neck muscles to soften. Allow the head to easily balance on top of the spine. Let the head slightly nod forward. (Most of us hold the head too far back and down which creates tension in the whole body.) Notice your shoulders and let them drop a little, let the elbows fall towards the floor.

Be aware of your breathing. Just notice the gentle ebb and flow or your breathing as you are inhaling and exhaling.

Notice the whole length of the body and allow your weight to travel down through the feet into the floor and, if you are sitting, through the sitting bones into the chair.

If you work with yourself in that manner – which is what Alexander Technique teaches! – your nervous system changes: You get calmer, more balanced and more creative in responding to what is going on around you. This way you are self-aware and present which allows you to stay connected with yourself on a deeper level.

On your family festivities you may not be able to go through all those directions all the time. However, you may be able to remember some of it and find a little space here and there… You will be surprised how much it lessens your body tension and how much more you are at ease – both physically and emotionally!

Happy Holidays!