I recently read an article that compared preparing for the holidays with family to that of preparing for a marathon. It discussed the need for us to prepare and practice mentally what to expect, how to avoid triggers and how to accept what we cannot change. Often times when we gather with family, we may fall back into familiar roles that we might have since outgrown, therefore, the events could potentially be emotionally draining or we may feel the tendency to backslide into old behaviors. As the article indicated, we would not sign up for a marathon and come unprepared so why do we expect ourselves to manage possible emotionally charged scenarios without preparing ourselves. Thoughts that came to my mind on how to prepare would be to meditate on what has happened at these events (both good and bad), what reminders we will use to prevent being triggered by past issues, what strategies we might use if we are triggered to avoid an unpleasant reaction and what we might need to do to decompress after the gatherings if we feel emotionally drained. This reminds me that maintaining awareness of our needs and developing strong habits surrounding mental health is just as important (if not more in some cases) as sticking with habits we have for managing our physical health.
What are some ways we can make this a priority and what will it take to develop good habits for our mental health?