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The holidays are stressful!

The holidays are here.  Where has the year gone?!  

Everywhere we go, we are reminded of these yearly events.  Retail stores, homes, neighborhoods, radio stations, businesses, advertisements, TV shows, and grocery stores.

Notice what the word “holidays” evokes within you.  Does it bring excitement and joy?  Anxiety and depression?  Maybe a mix of contradicting feelings or maybe nothing at all.  

People tend to put a good amount of energy into this time of year, whether that is the energy of shopping, the hustle and bustle, the gift buying, giving, and receiving, the meal planning or the energy of refusing to participate in any sort of way.  

For many people, the holidays mean having to spend time with people you feel no connection with, with people who suck the energy out of you, or with people who bring on a lot of painful memories.  It might also be a time of loneliness and longing to have people to share this time of year with.

Here are just a handful of associations the word “holidays” can bring up in people: happy, stressful, lonely, tradition, religion, dread, food, family time, baking, lights, warmth, cold, love, longing, rituals, societal expectations, cheer, joy, anxiety, depression, good memories, bad memories, endings, beginnings.

So, what do you do when your associations of the holidays are more negative than positive?  How do you take care of yourself during this season?  Interestingly enough, winter tends to symbolize death, introversion, retreat, stillness, cold, and silence.  Many animals go into hibernation.  In many human cultures, we forget to honor these things and experience everything but stillness and quiet.  We are expected to be at events, host gatherings, stand in line for hours to get a good deal, and are surrounded by shiny lights, noise, and other stimuli.  

If the thought of spending time with people or having to be in social situations causes more anxiety than peace, you have options. 

You could choose to suck it up and go through the same old holiday motions.

You could choose to not participate in any festivities.

You could choose to create your own, new traditions by yourself or with people you feel supported and comforted by.

Being aware of your limits and how much you can handle is so important, especially when being around others!  Whether or not you feel loved and cared for by others, it is still important to be aware of how much energy you have to give.

If you leave a social gathering feeling as though you are completely drained, be mindful of how you can recharge.  This might mean spending some time by yourself, engaging with your senses (taste, touch, sight, sound, smell, and intuition), creating your own traditions and celebrations, writing, baking, taking a warm bath, watching a favorite movie or show, going out into nature, listening to music, getting some extra rest, spending time with an animal, creating, taking a break from the pressures of the holidays.

 

However you choose to spend the rest of this year, I hope you are able to find some stillness amidst the hustle and bustle.  I hope you are able to find some warmth amidst the cold.  I hope that you are guided by your own north star.