Tools for the Holidays: Managing Stress and Anxiety
There is something I love about writing an article about the holidays. There are plenty of "How-to" articles about handling stress and managing being around family, and I intend to write something completely different from your average therapist recommendation. Please note that this is not prescriptive, and if you share different views that is totally okay. These are suggestions ONLY.
It's 2020...we all have our thoughts and feelings about what that means. Social Media, Media in general, along with public response has created a great deal of judgement around what COVID-19 is doing TO US. However, I wonder what it would look like to consider what COVID-19 has done, or is doing FOR US? If blaming a virus has helped you live the life you would like to create I applaud you. I certainly feel the pressure to identify with the masses that say, "Just wear a mask," or "It's everyone else's fault that we are STUCK at home." There is nothing wrong with whatever it is you believe, and know that I have experienced the broad spectrum of reactions over the past 10/11 months. AND...
WHAT IF CHANGE IS POSSIBLE?
I want to take a moment to consider that maybe this is all a gift. As I walk in the early morning and acknowledge that everything that has happened in my life has led me to this moment I question whether COVID-19 has not also been a contribution to my life....Scratch THAT! I know that COVID-19 has been a contribution to my life. I wonder now, what has been a contribution to you? The holidays are a time to give thanks, to recognize the trajectory of the 365 days we have sustained life on this earth, so I challenge you to consider that trajectory. What has shown up in your life? When you really look at it; would you have had the same opportunities now without the presence of an "evil force" like COVID?
I know, it isn't all sunshine and roses, I hear the voices of "YEAH, BUT PEOPLE DIED AND WE HAVE NO MONEY AND, AND, AND...THE PRESIDENT!"
Living at the effect of headlines is something I have identified as unhelpful. It contributes nothing to my life to read that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. Why? I am still alive, I am still living on this planet, and living as if I were already dead only creates more of the same worry and dread that I see in the public spheres.
So what are we to do? Thanksgiving and Christmas are canceled for some, and for others it remains the same as always. What if none of that were wrong? More than anything else that has been brought to the surface for me over the past year it is clear that choosing for ME, choosing to BE ME is being welcomed with open arms. I am aware that prior to this year family and holidays and social beliefs demanded that I show up the way others wanted me to, and now? Now I get to choose. Yep, that's right, I (and you) get to choose whether I (and you) am on zoom or in person, I (and you) get to choose whether it is possible to love my (your) family whether I (you) am in person or not. I (you) get to choose what my (your) life is going to look like No. Matter. What.
WHAT ARE YOU CHOOSING?
Okay, time for some tools!
Up to this point in the article you may want to wring my neck, but just hang on! Just a reminder that these are suggestions... you can do some, none or ALL of these.
1) Gratitude, (cue the typical therapist list!) but have you seriously ever received true gratitude? Make a list of the things you truly appreciate like the smell of coffee, the smell of the earth in fall, your family members being the most them they can be, a dog being so happy it pees a little etc. It can change my day from believing I have nothing to live for, to seeing that I am already living and have so much more to give AND receive.
2) Nature, seriously get OUTSIDE, have you ever watched a sun rise? You don't need to stand on a cliff, or travel somewhere, just watch the earth change with the energy of light. Look at the plants as if you have never seen them before. What would it be like to discover true discovery? How does it get any better than that?
3) Soft clothing is UNDERRATED, Get into something soft and feel your skin have so much gratitude for the gift of being comfortable.
4) Create something just for you. Rituals do not have to apply just to families. What are you doing to be a contribution for yourself? What could you create if you were willing to also give thanks for yourself?
5) Meditate Have you ever witnessed how much there is to receive from being still? What if being still could be considered productive, a contribution, and a gift just by allowing yourself awareness? What change is possible when you contribute to you?
6)Step Away from the Screen! (After you read this): Trust me, I know how great it is to unplug my brain and put it on a shelf for a while during a Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Binge. I also know that this creates separation with myself, others, the earth, and everything that is just out there waiting for me. No judgement if you choose to stay parked in your seat, and just know that you can choose something else every ten seconds.
7) Write out some Greeting Cards How great is it to get mail? Even with all the electronic messages this day, or especially with all the electronic messages getting a letter in the mail from a friend, a stranger, whoever is a great way to feel connected and appreciated. I have experimented with this and find that when I write out a greeting card I transition to gratitude more easily and it becomes meditate to an extent (3 for 1! how does it get any better than that?)
8) Acknowledge that you are a Creator Feeling trapped at home can feel like jail, or it can feel like fun! Have you ever put a child in their room for time out? Have you ever noticed that some sit a cry while others find things to do? What if you could be a child again in your own home?
9) Listen to your Body I am the number one offender of bumping my limbs into things, stuffing my face past the point of comfort, and at one time I would drink past the point of consciousness. I wonder what would happen if you could have a chat with your body? No pressure, no need to restrict, diet, or change anything, but what if you could simply ask "Hey body, what do you require?"
10) Enjoy the Heck out of Being You No matter what you choose this holiday season and beyond please know that you are a gift no matter what! Isn't that great? you don't have to use my tools and I still think you are a fabulous wonderful creation. What if you could turn down the COVID and turn UP being you?
I hope that I could offer something to you through this post. My only goal in life is to be a contribution as you all are to me. Happy Holiday season to all of you.