My stomach dropped when I saw the headline: “56 Dead in Las Vegas Shooting.” My parents had a trip planned right around now. When was that? Oh God, that was this weekend. And I haven’t heard from them. I immediately reached for my phone to call my mom. My hands were shaking so badly that I messed up my first dial. But I got through, my mom answering with a cheery “Hey there!” My parents were safe, healthy, alive – and I was grateful, relieved, and taking deep breaths.

Now, months later, I am home for the holidays. The fearful emotions of that morning have passed, but the lessons learned from that very real what if are still fresh. And I would sum it up this way: The time to call your mother and tell her you love her is now. 

With that urgency in mind, I made this EQ infused plan for maximizing our precious holiday time together. Focusing on my wellbeing can be difficult when I am home for the holidays, but why waste time feeling anything but my very best? 

Home for the Holidays: How to Focus on Wellbeing with Your Family

Here is my plan for focusing on my own and my family’s wellbeing when I am home for the holidays

Home for the Holidays: Organic Kale to the NFL

At times when I have been home for the holidays over the years, my wellbeing has suffered. I drink more, exercise less, and eat a drastically different – and less healthy – diet. I have a great, loving relationship with my parents, but we are living really different lives. I am a vegetarian, TV less, organic farmer, and when I am home it’s turkey, NFL football and Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. So when we come together, something has to give. And, you know, it’s family. These are long-term, complicated relationships with deeply entrenched patterns and dynamics.

Practicing EQ helps me bridge those gaps and act the way I want to, so that at the end of the day everyone feels well, and feels loved and appreciated. And when I think back to those moments when I was really scared about my parents’ physical wellbeing, I know that nothing is more important. I need to do everything I can to make the most out of every moment I have with them, because what if they really were at the wrong place at the wrong time? The thought alone makes all the things we would normally disagree about seem so, so trivial – and renews my motivation to focus on my wellbeing when I am home for the holidays. That way, I can be at my best and really cherish it.

 

Here are my goals for using EQ to be at my best while I are home for the holidays with my family.

 

#1 Take care of myself. It seems funny to start by focusing on myself. The best thing I can do to bond with my parents is to think more about myself? Yes, exactly. Too often over the years I have gone home for the holidays and not taken care of myself – and that’s why my wellbeing has suffered. So the first step toward optimizing our time together is taking care of myself – and that process starts with recognizing patterns that have held me back in the past. So when I am home, I normally do what?

When I am home for the holidays, I normally don’t exercise. This is huge for me. Exercising is such a critical part of my health and happiness in my every day life. But because I am out of my routine, I have frequently gone a week without doing anything but the occasional walk. So this time I am going to make it a goal to go for a hike every day. There’s good hiking close by, and it makes a huge difference in terms of how I feel.

When I home home for the holidays, I normally don’t carve out enough alone time. I want to spend as much time with my parents as possible, so I don’t take any alone time to rest and recharge. But that leads me to feeling frustrated and tired of everyone’s personality quirks. So my goal this year is to spend at least an hour every day by myself, and at least an hour with no one but my partner. The familiarity of that alone time will refresh me and keep me feeling well.

When I am home for the holidays, I normally don’t eat very healthily. I drink more alcohol, eat more junk food, and sleep less. This is probably the toughest one for me to correct. Our normal diets are worlds apart, and my parents take great pride in giving us full bellies at every meal. I don’t want to offend them by not eating something, but I am also not used to eating a lot of sugar and heavy cream, so I can feel physically unwell after a week. And I want to drink beer and wine with my family. So the answer for me is to do what I can. Be aware of what I am eating – and be willing to go buy my own organic kale and free range eggs at the grocery store if that’s what I want. I can get 8 hours of sleep every night, and pass by the M&M bowl at least half the time without taking a handful :).

 

#2 Be grateful, like, out loud. Parents sacrifice so much for their kids. I mean, it changes the entire path of their lives. So give your mom and dad a hug, and say, “Thank you so much for everything you have done for me.” You could single out a specific thing, like all your poopy diapers they changed, or the times they held you when you were screaming at the highest pitch known to man, or how they let you keep living in their house as a teenager after you stopped wanting anything to do with them. These are just a few of my personal examples.

But what I really mean is, say it! It’s hard to do sometimes because it’s a vulnerable thing to do. But I challenge you to take that first step of vulnerability and say a sincere thank you, and see what happens.

But there’s this crucial first step before you can express your heartfelt gratitude to them. Oh yeah. Looking at them! And that leads us to my final goal…

 

#3 Less FaceTime and Facebook – and more real, actual face time. Does this scene look familiar to you? It sure does to me!

 

 

We can tend to be sitting around the living room with everyone on their respective devices. It’s very often the world we live in, but it doesn’t have to be. And it all starts with me. If I want to have more actual face time when we are together, I have to be the change I want to see. When everyone else is doing screen time, I can very quickly lose my motivation for keeping mine on airplane mode. But maybe that’s exactly the motivation someone else needs – to see me not on my phone and realize they have someone to talk to!

When I think back to those moments when I was scared about my parents’ wellbeing, it makes the time I spend on Facebook and Instagram seem silly compared to the possibility of deep life talks, hugs, and laughter with my amazing parents.

 

So those are my goals to optimize my family time when I am home for the holidays: take care of myself, show gratitude, and spend less time on devices and more time being there!

 

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EQ Librarian at Six Seconds
Michael Miller is a writer and contributor for Six Seconds- The Emotional Intelligence Network. He is passionate about living a balanced, healthy life and helping others to do the same. You can reach him at [email protected]
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EQ Librarian at Six Seconds
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EQ Librarian at Six Seconds
Michael Miller is a writer and contributor for Six Seconds- The Emotional Intelligence Network. He is passionate about living a balanced, healthy life and helping others to do the same. You can reach him at [email protected]
Michael Miller
Michael Miller

Michael Miller

EQ Librarian at Six Seconds
Michael Miller is a writer and contributor for Six Seconds- The Emotional Intelligence Network. He is passionate about living a balanced, healthy life and helping others to do the same. You can reach him at [email protected]
Michael Miller