An emotional forecast for the holidays

I’ve been getting to know Tony, our new mail carrier. Though his day job takes up most of his energy, his passion is screenwriting, and he recently enrolled in a screenwriting course at the nearby community college. His ideas are beautiful, like a Pixar version of why bad things happen to good people. What he went through as a kid made him into a mystic, and he wants to offer hope for young people that are struggling.

Tony and I originally connected because a Sports Illustrated had been mistakenly delivered to my house. I was on my way to walk it over to the neighbor’s house when I met up with him. Tony later told me he was afraid I was going to yell at him, since that was how residents often approached. He was very surprised when I came up to him with an easygoing manner, and he wanted to know why I was like that. Now the fact that friendliness is an anomaly is something to think about in and of itself. But more importantly, we’ve got to stop yelling at the mailman! I know most of you don’t, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to. It’s not because one little problem is so awful; it’s the buildup of all the hard things. Maybe there are minor inconveniences in your daily life, but add them on to big transitions like death, divorce, job loss, breakups, miscarriage, financial crisis, natural disasters… well, eventually some of that stress explodes somewhere or makes you sick. What’s more, the holidays are approaching. Which means bells of holly and all kinds of family trauma, loneliness, grief, and the existential despair of consumerism. 

This November-December time period brings out all the emotional weather, so it’s also a season for preventative self-care. How do you maintain equilibrium when known stressors are coming? One reminder I give both myself and my clients is to make the time and space. If you need to release frustration and anger, you can go somewhere private like the parked car, and let that wild one roar! If you’re feeling frantic or trapped in a social situation, you can excuse yourself to the bathroom, and let every part of your body shake it out. If you can’t access emotions because they’ve been stuffed inside for so long, there are all kinds of strategies that can help you get things moving again. Stress release is not just about vomiting feelings. It’s having the intention to release them so you can move on.

The other factor we see coming is the tendency to overcommit and become too busy during the holiday season. It’s not the easiest time to start new programs; there’s just too much else going on. So less is more right now. At the same time, you may be feeling like you don’t want to keep playing the same dramas on repeat. The holidays often point a glaring finger at what’s not working. If you’re someone who takes care of other people’s needs a lot, the wear and tear of responsibility may be showing up, making these months feel draining and hard to enjoy. 

I don’t know about you, but as a caregiver professionally and at home, it’s just not sustainable to let stress run my life. If you already know you’re going to need some support starting over in the new year, registration is now open for the next Women’s Release & Empower group. Though the series doesn’t begin until late January, if you decide to sign up soon, you’ll be eligible for the early bird registration discount. Imagine weekly mini-retreats to soothe your mind, body, and spirit after all the holiday craziness is over. Could be a gift for the new year, if you ask for it! All the details are here. 

Maybe you cherish the holidays and enjoy the generosity and celebration. Or maybe you love it AND it’s also hard for you. You don’t have to avoid or repress the painful parts to enjoy the rest. It’s possible to experience both the light and the darkness that comes with tradition, family, and wintertime. Like we do with the breath all day long, we can let it in and let it out. With plenty of forgiveness for the times when we forget, we can always start again.  

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