The holiday season is officially upon us. I talked about taking care of yourself during the chaos of the holidays in my last blog a couple of weeks ago, and with Thanksgiving in two days and Christmas in just over a month, those tips will definitely serve you. We often forget about the “meaning” of the season–spending time with loved ones, enjoying the shift from fall to winter, and an overall sense of fun–and instead focus on the worries of gift giving (be it the expense of the holidays, the stress of finding the “right” thing, etc.), worry about family stress and drama, worry about catching the best deals. You name it, there’s a worry out there about the holidays.
This week, and for the rest of this holiday season, I challenge you to take care of yourself and be truly present in the moment. When we focus on the future and what “could” happen anxiety sets in. Stay with your present feelings and thoughts without judgment, then offer your thoughts and feelings compassion. If you are going about your day tomorrow, for example, and you think, “Oh man, I’m so worried about tomorrow and all I have to do.” Stop. Feel that worry. Allow it to sink in. Then offer yourself compassion by acknowledging that Thanksgiving is a big holiday and there often is a lot to do. Understand that you are one person, and if you feel you need to ask for help, then do. More often than not, people are willing to help, but you need to ask first. The worst they can say is no, and usually there is someone else to ask. Also know if something is forgotten, the world won’t stop turning and everything always works out in the end. Self-compassion without judgment is a constant practice but is very beneficial in helping you navigate stressful (and non-stressful) situations.
I’ve starting reading Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, and she discusses the feelings our society teaches about unworthiness. We are unworthy to be happy because we are atoning for our sins as it were. She discusses how we are on the move to avoid our feelings of sadness, anxiety, whatever it may be, and I think this is very true during the holiday season. We “have” to be the best at gift giving, we “have” to spend time with family, we “have” to go to that holiday party. We avoid looking at why we may not want to do those things because if we stand up and say we need space or to look after ourselves, people may think ill of us or it may look selfish. But, doing something for the sake of “tradition” even if it makes us feel awful causes resentment, sadness, and anger. Instead, be aware of your feelings and offer yourself that compassion you do deserve. Tara Brach explains that all people have goodness within them and we need to focus on that and preserving that goodness rather than beating ourselves up. If you take care of yourself during this time of year, you will be better equipped to take care of others.
May love and light surround you this Thanksgiving wherever you are and whatever you choose to do.