Let’s Talk Holidays!

Navigating the holidays can be a challenging endeavor, and integrating Brene Brown’s concepts can provide valuable insights. Brown, a renowned researcher and author, focuses on vulnerability, shame, and wholehearted living.

The holiday season provides a unique opportunity to incorporate and practice some of her concepts.

Embrace Vulnerability

Brown emphasizes vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, love, and belonging. Begin by acknowledging and embracing vulnerability during the holidays. Recognize that it’s okay not to have everything perfect. Share your authentic self with others, fostering genuine connections.

Set Boundaries

Brown’s work emphasizes the importance of setting and respecting boundaries for cultivating meaningful connections. Establish clear boundaries to protect your well-being. Communicate openly with family and friends about your limits, ensuring a healthy balance between social interactions and personal time.

Practice Gratitude

Gratitude, as explored by Brown, is a powerful tool for cultivating joy and resilience. Cultivate a gratitude mindset during the holidays. Take time to reflect on the positive aspects of your life, fostering a sense of appreciation.

Combat Shame

Brown’s research highlights the destructive nature of shame, and by acknowledging it, you can take steps to replace shame with self-compassion and understanding. Recognize and combat feelings of shame that may arise during family gatherings or social events.

Embrace Imperfection

Brown’s insights on embracing imperfection align with the idea that vulnerability and imperfection are integral to genuine connections. Understand that perfection is unattainable. Embrace imperfections in yourself and others. Create a space that allows for mistakes and authenticity.

Connect through Shared Experiences

Brown’s emphasis on connection as a fundamental human need resonates strongly during holiday gatherings. Foster connections with others by engaging in shared experiences. Whether it’s cooking together, playing games, or sharing stories, creating meaningful moments can deepen connections.

two people cooking together

Cultivate Self-Compassion

Brown’s research highlights the importance of treating ourselves with the same kindness and understanding that we offer to others. Extend compassion towards yourself during the holidays. If things don’t go as planned or if you feel overwhelmed, practice self-compassion.

Mindful Communication

Brown’s work underscores the significance of clear and compassionate communication for building trust and connection within relationships. Practice mindful communication by actively listening and expressing yourself authentically.

Celebrate Joy

Brown’s research on vulnerability emphasizes that joy is intricately linked to our ability to be vulnerable. Actively seek moments of joy and celebration during the holidays.  Allow yourself to fully experience and savor moments of joy without reservations.

Reflect and Learn

Brown’s approach to wholehearted living involves continuous learning and growth. After the holidays, take time to reflect on your experiences. What worked well? What could be improved? Use your reflections to inform future holiday seasons and enhance your well-being.

Incorporating Brene Brown’s concepts into your holiday experience can bring depth and authenticity to the festivities. By embracing vulnerability, setting boundaries, practicing gratitude, combating shame, and celebrating joy, you can navigate the holidays with a sense of purpose and connection.

Using these concepts, we can create a strategy to cope with the loneliness and isolation that many people encounter this time of year.

Recognize that the holidays can be a challenging time for those experiencing loneliness and isolation. If you find yourself in this situation, consider reaching out to friends, family, or support groups. Brene Brown’s concepts emphasize the importance of connection, even if it means stepping outside your comfort zone.

Vulnerability in Seeking Support

Practice vulnerability by sharing your feelings of loneliness with someone you trust. Seek support from those around you or consider joining community events to connect with others who may be experiencing similar emotions.

Engage in Self-Compassion Practices

When facing loneliness, be kind to yourself. Engage in self-compassion practices, acknowledging that it’s okay to feel this way. Brown’s work encourages us to treat ourselves with the same empathy we offer to others. Take time for self-care and engage in activities that bring you comfort and joy.

Volunteer and Give Back

Combat loneliness by participating in volunteer activities or community events. Contributing to others can provide a sense of purpose and connection. Brown’s research on wholehearted living emphasizes the positive impact of contributing to the well-being of others.

Create Virtual Connections

In today’s digital age, leverage technology to create virtual connections. Arrange video calls with friends and family, join online communities, or participate in virtual events. While it may not replace in-person interactions, virtual connections can help alleviate feelings of isolation.

Explore New Hobbies and Interests

Use this time to explore new hobbies or interests. Join clubs, classes, or online groups centered around activities you enjoy. Brown’s concepts encourage us to embrace our authentic selves, and exploring new interests can be a fulfilling way to connect with like-minded individuals.

person playing the guitar

Attend Social Events

Attend local social events or gatherings to meet new people. Many communities host holiday-themed activities or support groups. Stepping into social settings may feel intimidating, but practicing vulnerability by engaging in such events can lead to meaningful connections.

Seek Professional Support

If loneliness persists, consider seeking professional support. Therapists, counselors, or support groups can provide a safe space to explore and address the underlying causes of loneliness. Brown’s work on vulnerability and shame emphasizes the strength in seeking help when needed.

Practice Mindfulness

Incorporate mindfulness practices into your routine to stay present and manage feelings of loneliness. Whether it’s meditation, deep breathing, or mindful walks, mindfulness can help you stay grounded in the moment and foster a sense of connection with yourself.

Connect with Strangers

Sometimes, meaningful connections can come from unexpected places. Engage in small talk with neighbors, colleagues, or fellow attendees at events. Brown’s emphasis on human connection encourages us to recognize the potential for genuine interactions in our day-to-day lives.

Navigating loneliness and isolation during the holidays may require intentional efforts, but incorporating these strategies aligned with Brene Brown’s concepts can contribute to a more connected and fulfilling experience. Remember, vulnerability, self-compassion, and reaching out for support are powerful tools in overcoming these challenges.


Written by Josh Watkins, LCSW

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