How to Hold Strong Through the Holidays and Practice Self-Care
Hello, Tamara here, wishing you the happiest of holidays. ;)
This can be such a magical time of year - a time of cheer and celebration, of family gatherings and reunion, of connection and generosity. But for many, this time of year can feel challenging.
For some, spending time with family provokes triggers and stressful events. Others may not have anyone to spend the holidays with. Some of us are enduring breakups, or are dealing with loss or illness. I just received an email from a Calm user who confided a great loneliness she was carrying. It broke my heart to hear.
Reading her words, my mind fell back to a New Years Eve, about 20 years ago. It was shortly after a breakup and I spent the evening alone. I had fallen into clinical depression and the sadness I contained was overwhelming. Caught in a storm of negative thoughts, I was certain my loneliness would never end. In order to either indulge in my depression or avoid it (I wasn’t quite sure which, at the time,) I rented two of the saddest movies in existence, Requiem for a Dream and Moulin Rouge. I then fell to my food addiction, burying my sorrows in Doritos and butter tarts. I ate and cried the night away.
This is what we do when we don’t know an alternative. We seek temporary comfort (which in my case, resulted in an awful tummy-ache the next day).
And it’s funny, in a not-so-funny-way, how the holidays tend to amplify whatever we’re going through. If we’re single and depressed we never feel more alone. If we’re enduring a loss, that loss is never more pronounced.
So, to the struggling woman who wrote me this evening, and to anyone else who is challenged this time of year, I ask you to hold strong and know this for certain: Although in this moment, life may feel difficult, I can promise you, this too shall pass. That may be hard to believe because pain can feel solid and strong and overwhelming. But it will change and it will pass eventually, like every other emotion and experience.
Also, it’s okay to feel sad and scared and lonely. We enhance our pain when we tell ourselves it’s wrong to feel that way. There is no shame in loneliness, or fear, or any emotion. Our emotions are what connect us as humans. We so easily forget this.
My wish for you this holiday season is that you’re able to move through your challenges mindfully. It takes great skill to offer self-care when loneliness or fear or angst feels all-consuming. This is part of why we practice mindfulness - so that when challenges and difficult emotions arise, we have within us the skillset for self-care.
So if loneliness has arisen and the world suddenly feels silent, if being with family triggers old wounds, anxieties and cravings, if emotions like grief, anger, pain or fear feel overwhelming, my hope is that you are able to do the hardest thing possible, that you’re able to stay with whatever arises and hold the space for yourself.
And what that means is stopping, tuning in and listening, actually hearing what your emotions and body are telling you and honouring your feelings. And rather than racing to that bucket of Haggendas, or Netflix, or bottle of Crown Royale, I hope that you’re able to offer some space for whatever’s in your experience, finding within you the strength to turn towards your fear or sadness and tenderly say, “I see you. I hear you.” Instead of judging yourself and making those unsettling emotions wrong, offer them acceptance, loving kindness, and compassion.
This is a time to offer yourself gentleness. Love yourself up, nurture yourself, show yourself the kindness you’d like others to show you, learn to be your own best friend. Practice standing tall and becoming your own champion, for as you begin to offer self-care, a sense of strength and security will be born of that self-reliance.
As parting words, whether you’re alone or surrounded by family and friends, use this time of year to practice self-care. Slow down, bundle up and know that even in the darkest moments, you will find the way forward. One step at a time. You are stronger than you imagine.
Let self-love become your revolution.