The ideal: fun, family, food.
Reality (especially when hosting!) for some: lots of organizing and crowded home.
Pesach, like most holidays, can be an extremely exciting time for families to get together, share meals and ideas, and celebrate with one another.
However, holidays can be a painfully long and uncomfortable experience for different people.
Examples of people who find Pesach to be a difficult and tiring experience: those who are missing a loved one that passed away, those who don’t love spending too much time with too many relatives, those who need everything to come out perfect and are aware of every little “disaster” that unfolds, those who hate missing so much work and time in exchange for long religious rituals, etc, etc, etc.
But it is also a difficult time for people who LOVE their families, very much enjoy the religious aspects of the holiday, and go with the flow in all areas- but deal with things like social anxiety and other mental illnesses.
Whatever your reason is, here are some tips on how to create “me time” when your entire extended family is in your living room:
1) Short term? Go to the bathroom.
Bathroom breaks are totally expected and normal, and going to the bathroom is a valid excuse to leave the table at any point. Go there and just take some time to breath, sprinkle some cool water on your face, or take two minutes to just be with yourself. When you are ready, come back a little more energized.
2) Long nights? Go to sleep at a normal hour.
Sure, it can be a little embarrassing when others are staying up and you are not. But if the night is dragging on forever and everyone is just hanging out, don’t be shy to play the “bed time” card for yourself. Needing sleep is perfectly acceptable and natural, and you should get sleep even though others are staying up.
3) Too much going on at once? Silence is golden.
It is not a big deal to drop out of one or two conversations here and there. If you don’t like the topic and have been listening to too much at once, zone out of the subject and feel free to stay out of things temporarily. It is not your responsibility to keep every conversation between the people in the room going, but it is your responsibility not to exhaust your energy by trying to make sure everything is going perfect constantly in terms of subjects chosen for conversations.
4) Small things going wrong? Focus On The Positive.
Oftentimes, it is about your point of view. Do you see your five year old nephews fighting about some jelly beans (kosher for Passover!) OR are you appreciating the fact that different parts of the family are celebrating together in one room? Remember that you love what you’re doing and who you’re with and that small things that go wrong are really not all that important.
5) Getting overwhelmed? Time is temporary.
Constantly remind yourself that in a few hours the meal will end. Do so in a positive way, thinking about how accomplished you will feel having been able to get through a tedious evening. Imagine the end goal when you are no longer facing the anxieties directly but can say that you spent time with your family and succeeded in participating in fascinating discussions and meaningful celebrations.
6) Feeling down? Praise yourself.
Think about how well you are doing CONSTANTLY. Give yourself a pretend high five every time you notice yourself doing ok or even enjoying yourself. Cut yourself slack for mistakes and slip-ups, and understand that it IS a difficult season for many people. Try your best, and appreciate that you did.
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