We may wish for the Norman Rockwell version of Thanksgiving, family smiling and laughing joyfully as they surround a table with a big ol’ turkey.
Let’s be real.
Someone will say something provocative. Someone replies in anger. Old slights resurface. New ones leave a fresh cut.
Tensions run high when people who normally don’t spend a lot of time together come together for an extended stretch. It can be a long visit.
Do you want to rewrite your stories? Do you want to change the usual response? It starts with focusing on ourselves.
Here are 3 steps to making the most of the next 48+ hours:
- Pick some breath prayers and mantras to help guide your thoughts. A mantra is a word or phrase that you repeat, to help you keep a particular focus. Here are a few: I only speak love. I am blessed beyond measure. I am joyful even under stress. These can seem awkward if you’ve not done them before, but keep with it. You’ll be amazed at how it changes your focus. A breath prayer is a way to pray without ceasing: Be with me, Lord. Keep me strong. Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight. Having several of these to use, to repeat, is helpful any time, but particularly in times of stress.
- Think about a simple pleasure that you enjoy. Make a point to do it. Maybe you’re expecting a lot of guests and have a lot of cooking and cleaning to do the next two days. It’s important to practice self-care and find what brings you joy. Is it rising early and having a cup of coffee on the porch before the rest of the crowd gets up? Is it taking a walk, either alone or with someone you would like to spend some extra time with? Curling up with a good book for a few minutes? Make time to do it! Especially if you’re cooking and cleaning and preparing for everyone, you’ll bring more joy to those tasks if you cultivate your own spirit and happiness.
- Pay attention to what you’re eating and drinking. It’s easy to fall into the “Yay, it’s Stretchy Pants Week!” excitement, but too much sugar, too much caffeine and too much alcohol will leave you run down and depleted. Make conscious choices, starting with drinking plenty of water (64 ounces or more). Start your day with a healthy breakfast. At your big meal, take an extra spoonful of fresh veggies and only half of the mashed potatoes that you really want. Make choices that don’t completely derail you. For some, one slice of pie is the start of the end. Know your limits, and don’t beat yourself up if you stretch them just a tad. Get back on track with the next meal.
This long weekend, and really at any time, we cannot control how other people act, nor what they say. We only can control how we respond to those things. And the root of that is how we are caring for ourselves.
How will you care for yourself this weekend? What ideas and plans do you have that might be helpful for others to hear? Please share.
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