Today is the day after Thanksgiving, the holiday devoted to family and food, and for those of us who struggle with one or both of these, we have survived. Some of us thrived, some of us simply survived, and we are still here.
The holiday season opens up so many issues for people and puts us in touch with many memories both positive and negative. We remember years past when we remember things to have been better; we remember people who are no longer with us; we remember that childlike awe of the bounty that may have been a simple dinner where everyone sat down together. And we are now in touch with seasonal expectations from years past, and those that we place on ourselves, others place on us, and our feelings about ourselves. We are exposed to the unreasonable pressures to spend more, eat more, have more, do more and keep up all other aspects of our lives in the process. And it is an unreasonable expectation.
So what can we do to help ourselves in this time of increased pressure? Here are some tips.
* Recognize that many of the pressures that we are experiencing are our own feelings, and we can use tools to deal with our feelings. We can do a variety of grounding exercises to keep us in our present space and out of our heads, thus allowing feelings to flow through and out without grabbing them and running with them.
Possible options for grounding:
These are two very simple techniques that take only a couple of minutes and can get you back into your body and into the present. You can do them anywhere because your eyes are open, and you can do them without people noticing, without feeling conspicuous. Having tools to use means that you never need to let yourself get to the place where the feelings are leading you. You will gradually learn when feelings are beginning to emerge and do something before they do.
The value of these techniques is that they allow you to work through and dissipate feelings, not stuff them down. You are letting them go rather than bottling them up as something that are beyond you. And when you are able to let them go, you are learning to release negative thoughts that can come back and haunt you at another time. So you get two benefits - immediate release and no blow back later.
So be good to yourself this holiday season. No one ever has enough of everything, including one's capacity to absorb feelings from the past. Be aware of how you place expectations on yourself and project that they are the expectations of others - sometimes we are the ones who add stress in the name of others. And, use tools that you have at your disposal to enjoy the life that you have and the people who love you. That is what this season is supposed to be about, after all.