How to Survive the Holidays

The holiday season can be a stressful time, even when things are going swimmingly. But add on the pressure of trying to conceive, and it can be especially hard to see this time as the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” Here are some tools that can help ease the stress of the “festive” gathering, how to survive the holidays, and help you deal better with the holidays this season.

To Go or Not to Go? The first step is determining your pain-to-pleasure ratio with regard to the gathering. Does the pain of attending outweigh the benefit of going? You can do this by asking yourself these questions:

  • Will this event cause me to overstress?
  • How am I feeling when I think of this event?
  • Will I be uplifted or will I feel anxious?

If you decide not to go . . . Here’s a secret I’ve learned from experience and one of my most frequently used mantras: “Ten years from now, this will not matter.” At the moment, your decision may feel so important, but — I promise — years from now it will not be as emotionally intense and/or will probably be forgotten.

If You Decide to Go . . . Ask yourself about your intention. Intentions are a large factor in managing your situation. An intention is like a mini goal for the day or the encounter. What is your mini-goal for the event? You’ll want to set it for two reasons. First, you’ll want to beam out into the universe what you’d like to have happen and how you’d like the situation to play out. Second, by establishing an intention you set yourself up to win!

Coping During the Event Say you and your partner need to attend your partner’s office party. You don’t feel up to it, he does, and you are at an impasse as to what to do.

Break the Event Down into Parts Decide which parts of the event you are capable of attending. Perhaps you are in a position where you “must attend” and are feeling the pressure. You and your partner can commit to attending the cocktail portion of the party and then make a discrete exit. Stay longer if you are up to it, but if you feel you’ve fulfilled your goal, then leave acknowledging, “Another job was well done!” Or, just attend the dessert portion of the event, stating that you have a prior commitment but will come later.

Create an Elevator Speech An elevator speech is a rehearsed and well-delivered speech at the ready to answer those annoying questions such as: “Do you have children?” “When are you going to have children?” and the dreaded, “Isn’t it time for you both to start having children?” My tried and true elevator speech was, “We have a whole team of experts working on that.” Or you can try, “Babies come when babies come.”

Create a Red Flag Phrase You may be fearful that if you go to your husband’s holiday party and need to leave, he won’t understand. I understand that fear. I ran into a similar dynamics of misunderstanding the other’s “pain to pleasure” ratio. Here’s how I solved it. I came up with a Red Flag Phrase. Mine was a line from Seinfeld, the television show: “These pretzels are making me thirsty.” When either I or my former husband used it, it meant no questions asked — we had to leave. I remember being at a party and feeling as though I was going to faint because the pressure of holding myself together got too great. It was right after we lost our pregnancy and the talk was mainly about children and babies. I handled it well at the beginning, but it just went on and on and I began to feel dizzy and sick to my stomach. I walked up to my former husband and whispered into his ear: “These pretzels are making me thirsty” and at first he asked if I wanted a drink and then he realized it was ”get the coats” time. The key is using your mutually agreed upon phrase only in times of need and to be clear that the request needs to be fulfilled without questions.

This Too Shall Pass Remember, the holiday season will soon pass. I hope you can use these strategies to enjoy it as much as possible. If you do, you will find yourself feeling stronger as you start a new year.

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