Tips for Holiday Survival

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Tis the season for making merry, decorating, standing in lines, ordering online gifts, seeing concerts and attending parties, and dreading the sadness, loneliness, and family madness.  So much emotional stuff is mixed up into our celebrations in life.

The question here is not how do we survive it, but how do we thrive and feel more alive in it?

You might think it’s cute that I suggest you can go beyond the monumental feat of surviving a family dinner during the holidays.  I’m suggesting it because we can only “achieve that which you can conceive and believe”, compliments of Napoleon Hill.  And that old cliche, if you shoot for the stars you might reach the moon.

So, let’s say you’re only up for surviving the holidays and all of the sadness that comes with them because you miss the loved ones who’ve passed, or you’re dreading being alone and isolated, without any family.  Maybe you’ve had your hopes and expectations devastated a few times too many and just want to hide from the holidays altogether.  I understand and empathize.  It can be pretty miserable when you’re feeling low and seemingly everyone around you is lighting candles and singing carols.

While I can’t get you from miserable to ecstatic in a blog post, I can give you a few tips that might make it all bearable.  From there you’ll have to be willing to imagine and believe in something better, an idea about the holidays that is different from the one you’ve been holding.

Tips for Going Beyond Holiday Survival:

  1.  Get out of yourself and see who needs something.  This is a simple one, but it’s tried and true.  It was my mother’s mantra whenever she would encounter me feeling sorry for myself.  Go and help someone, she’d say, and you’ll feel better.
  2. Let yourself have a pity party on a timer.  This one can sound strange if you’ve never heard anything like it before.  The truth is that when we try *not* to feel our feelings, they feel worse and keep us stuck in magnified versions.  So decide you’re going to give yourself a certain reasonable amount of time to feel those rough feelings on purpose and let them out.  Do it on purpose.  The caveat here is that you’ll want to make sure you’re in a private space, that you don’t lay your feelings on anyone else, and that you keep yourself safe.  When that timer goes off, have a plan for something you’re going to do that’s productive and get moving.  The pressure cooker of emotional release will renew your energy, and it’s good to have a place to focus it that’s a positive, uplifting one.
  3. Reach out to friends, or put yourself out there and make a friend.  It’s hard to reach out when you feel depressed or upset, but it’s healthier than isolating for days on end.  Create or get a little gift for your friend, or do something nice for them.  Even if it’s only to have a cup of tea together, it’s important to get yourself around some people.
  4. Practice non-reactivity.  See how long you can go without being in reactivity to the things that usually trigger you.  One of the ways you can achieve this is to begin a mindfulness practice.  No time like the present to start a new habit, right?!  You can look up some simple ways to practice mindfulness online, and you can also start right now by following your breath.  Focus on the breath as you breathe in, and then focus on the breath as you breathe out.  This is the most powerful way to get yourself back to your center, and to stop reacting.  It quiets the stories in the mind, which are where all of our reactions start and then escalate if we let them.
  5. Do one act of self care a day, minimum.  I used to balk at this advice to practice self care, because it just seemed too simple and I didn’t believe it could touch the kind of extreme emotional pain I felt at times.  When I finally stopped arguing with the idea and just put it into action, I was blown away by how powerful it is.  Doing things to care for yourself are so healing.  It’s really a way of feeling love towards yourself, and boosting your self esteem and energy.  Just do it.

These tips work whether it’s a holiday or not, but I think so much of the advice I see out there for holiday stress centers around how to shorten your to do list or shop smarter, etc.  The things that make the biggest difference, I have found, are the ones that shift our internal awareness and take the energy out of our mental preoccupation and into our heart and soul.

I wish you the very best life of your most treasured imaginings.

Happy Holidays,

Goddess Oceana

 

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