to surviving and thriving with peace and compassion.
For many people the holidays are overflowing with expectations... from finding the “right” gifts, feeling “joyful”, accepting invitations to parties where food and alcohol are abundant, focus on families, visiting family drama, dynamics, or revisiting the painful thought that there is no family.
Waiting on long lines… stuck….. in traffic, at the stores, climbing over people to grab the bargains, stuff..and more stuff… increasing amounts of noise, bells ringing on steeples, out side of supermarkets, collecting coins... horns honking… carolers singing in malls, on streets, in churches….. all reminders of having, not having,...... enough, the right kind, fitting in, feeling the right things…. exhausting… stressful and tiring.
For those people who have recently lost a loved one or pet the first holiday can be particularly painful without them. The holidays may bring back the return of raw emotions of the loss and day to day life in a swirling world surrounded by “merriness and brightness”just doesn’t seem to fit how you are feeling inside. Be gentle with yourself and acknowledge the grief and loss. Its o.k. not to be merry or bright right now. Stay warm, have plenty of easy to digest, soft and nutritious foods around (soup, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes,applesauce) and find a quiet place to remember and allow yourself to feel your emotions. Be authentic with yourself.
Perhaps if we slow down and look inside ourselves we can be realistic about how the holidays have affected us in the past, plan ahead, and be empowered to create todays version of the holidays= ie)Avoid traffic, stay away from the malls, leave early, pack a lunch and choose a place to sit instead of waiting on a line. Avoid situations or people who bother you, remember to set limits on the events you attend. Don’t force yourself to be happy if you are not feeling happy. If spending too much on gifts created too much anxiety and angst about money in the past then try spending and owing less. If you were disgusted with yourself for eating too much”junk” make a conscious decision to celebrate with only a few of your favorite treats and snack on veggies or fruits.
After clearing away all of the distractions I reconnect with the idea that the holidays can be a joyful time of giving, a time to help others, a time to listen, taking the time to notice others. How can we simplify the giving part so that we reduce our stress and increase our feelings of peace, satisfaction, and appreciation?
You can Create new rituals to celebrate the season without spending much money. Perhaps helping with dinner at one of the local shelters? Spending time with a senior who is alone? or giving out home baked cookies and sandwiches on the street down at the market? Perhaps paying it forward in kindness? or apologizing when you hurt someone? or have a misunderstanding? Use your world, the environment, to nurture yourself as well- go for a long walk, sit quietly and listen to your favorite music, breathe deeply, watch children playing, take pictures of peoples expressions, or of something beautiful, play with a cute dog, look into the eyes of someone new, create a new song of celebration, attend a holiday service where the congregation is warm and loving, spend time with an old friend, be kind to a lonely person, or pet. Make cards, candles or soaps… write a poem, or draw a picture, make a collage of holiday wishes from old magazines and cards..
May you create a holiday that you can appreciate and enjoy!