Keeping Friendships Healthy over the Holidays

This time of year can be crazy busy, right?! Christmas can be an exciting, fun and magical time of year; however, we can also find ourselves bogged down in ‘organisational overload’. With our calendars chock-a-block full of get-togethers and pre-Christmas catch-ups, it is no wonder that many of us start to feel a little tired, frazzled and frayed around the edges right about now – and our children feel it too!

At this time of year, everything (including friendships and relationships) feel like they hold a little more weight. When we are busy, under pressure and tired, we are also more sensitive to every little thing, making this a prime time for Friendship Fires® to spark. So, how do we keep our friendships and relationships healthy over the holidays?

Step 1: Self-Reflect

Firstly, we need to take a deep breath and check in with ourselves. At URSTRONG, we often ask the students:“Where would you position yourself on the ‘Sensitivity Rainbow’?” The ‘Sensitivity Rainbow’ is a spectrum that we use to teach children how to reflect on their level of sensitivity in the present moment. We consider the variables, such as tiredness and hunger (ever felt “hangry” before?), that can impact their sensitivity levels. Children learn that, at any given time, a person’s level of sensitivity to their environment is different (just like Friendship Fact #2: Every Friendship is Different!). The ‘Sensitivity Rainbow’ is a tool that is equally as helpful to us as adults too. When we start to feel our levels of frustration or stress rise, we can ask ourselves, “Where would I position myself on the ‘Sensitivity Rainbow’ right now? Is there anything making me more sensitive than usual? Am I too busy, too tired, too hungry?” Self- reflecting, even for a micro-moment, can help us to put things in perspective and keep our catastrophizing thinking in check.

Step 2: Follow the Steps

Secondly, if we feel a Friendship Fire® is starting to spark, don’t let it smoke and smoulder. Follow the steps to put out those Fires straight away! Remember to ‘Talk-it-Out’ – the most important step on the Friend-o-cycle. The Friend-o-cycle reminds us of the normal cycle of conflict in friendships and relationships and teaches us that these Fires can actually help us to grow ‘Closer & Stronger’. There is no need to be afraid of Friendship Fires® because if you follow the steps you can extinguish them and get your friendship back into the healthy zone of the Friend-o-meter.  However, it is the season for giving and sometimes we have to ‘give for a relationship’ or be the one to forgive, if we are truly committed to putting a Friendship Fire® out.

Step 3: Honour, Celebrate, & Be Present (not a present!)

My favourite thing about Christmas is the opportunity it creates for us to celebrate, honour, and spend time with the people we love the most. Forget the presents…It is your physical presence that is most valuable and the greatest gift to your friends and family! So, do everything that you can to push the stresses and pressures of the holidays to the periphery and focus on being in the moment. Be present with your friends, express gratitude and honour your friendships and significant relationships by spending some quality time hanging out together! Get back in touch with the things that matter most.

This year at URSTRONG, we have created a ‘25 Days of Friendship’ Advent Calendar to enable us to be intentional about growing healthy friendships and making new and deeper connections with each other as we approach Christmas. Perhaps you’d like to use it and share it with your friends too!

Merry Christmas and lots of best wishes from the URSTRONG Team!

Written by Megan Booth
School Counsellor & Licensed Presenter of URSTRONG


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