What does it mean for you usually? What about this year? Is it joyful tunes, beautiful light displays, and delicious mugs full of hot cocoa?
Or is it anxiety? Like increased financial anxiety, or weather anxiety, and of course the anxiety about staying connected with others? If it’s the anxiety – you’re not alone.
Research finds 64% of folks with mental health issues feel “worse” during the holiday season. And with the world-wide pandemic, 2020 holiday season might have you feeling more anxious.
Added stressors = added anxiety
Many folks are struggling with burn out around navigating the pandemic and all that has changed in the last nine months. With stressors new and old it’s no wonder that you’re likely feeling more on edge, braced and/or exhausted.
Stressors like holiday shopping for that special gift, working from home, managing remote learning for children, and colder temperatures keeping you even more socially isolated with less options for safe gatherings all contribute to feeling like you’re living in a pressure cooker.
2020 has been rough and completely different than anyone could have imagined. As you head into 2021, I invite you to approach this holiday season differently:
What if you took the time to reflect and slow down? What if you choose to navigate your anxiety differently ? What if, instead of sinking into the abyss of anxiety, you choose to R.I.S.E.?
How often have you set a New Years resolutions of “I’m going to take more time myself!” or “It’s the year of self-care!”? Did you follow through on that resolution? Or did you get caught up in the year and forget to give time and space toward reflection?
What if this holiday season you intentionally made space to reflect? Allow your mind, body, and soul to reflect on all that you’ve survived with challenges of this year? You’re living, breathing, experiencing: you are ALIVE. And that is no small feat!
- Start with taking a moment to quiet the buzz around you – whether in your mind or in your environment. Take three long, slow, intentional deep breaths. Breath in “Life” and exhale “Strife.”.
- Pull out a notebook and your favorite pen and note all of your “wins” from the year. ESPECIALLY the ones that feel small as those are often the ones we forget to reflect on! Breath each victory in and let yourself settle into your own strength.
What did you look forward to this year? For many, it’s been difficult looking forward to anything. Our plans have been put on hold, changed, or straight up canceled. You can imagine how easy it is to lose our imagination along the way.
Does it feel like anxiety has become a familiar face when imagining the future? Anxiety tries to hold us back in fear. It tries to stifle the parts of us that create hopes and dreams.
But what if instead of holding onto anxiety these holidays, you chose to imagine your future differently? One filled with the strength, patience, and resilience. Check out some ideas below to help you get into your creative and imaginal self:
- Create a vision board! Gather drawings, magazine cutouts and images to put onto poster board, in your journal or on a large piece of paper and start gluing things to your board that feel enlivening, inspirational and hopeful. Use this as a daily visual guide to help you look forward to the days ahead.
- Journal every day or as often as you can about the things you’re looking forward to in the coming year. Don’t worry if those things are going to happen or not, focus more on the feeling in your body of excitement, anticipation, and goodness.
- Share your imagination and talk about what you’re looking forward to, what you want to create, what you want to do differently.
Survival mode can make it feel nearly impossible to savor any goodness you may experience. Whether through a global pandemic or argument with a partner: trauma has impacted all of us in 2020. While we may rush to forget this year, it’s important to remember and savor the good parts!
When eating a delicious meal, often folks save the best piece for last to really savor the meal they just had. But what if instead we chose to eat the best piece now. Why wait? Savoring the small moments of solidity and groundedness in ourselves are utterly important.
During this holiday season, I invite you to take a moment to use each of your senses to soak up all that you can within a moment of goodness. Solved a problem at work and got recognized by your boss? Savor it! Made the perfect cup of tea? Savor it! Had a great conversation with someone close to you? Savor it!
Savoring is about slowing down long enough to really enjoy what’s happening. Savoring is also about really feeling into the good sensations in your body. Don’t just rush to the next anxiety provoking thing. Soak the goodness up!
Embrace: to hug, hold, experience.
When you’re anxious, the last thing you want to do is embrace the experience. And yet, I encourage you to do just that: give yourself permission to let the anxiety be present AND practice kindness to your exhausted and resilient self.
Embrace your ability to navigate difficult experiences, feed yourself daily, and be with others and yourself. You are a Rockstar! You need to embrace yourself in all that you are and in all that you have survived this year!
Literally, I implore you to embrace yourself! Despite the pandemic and our anxiety working overtime, we ALL need physical contact.
Hug. Hold. Experience. Embrace.
- Single and living alone? Hold yourself! Find that “just right” touch and embrace it. Find a soft blanket, fuzzy sweater or build a nest of pillows around you to feel that sense of being held.
- Have a pet? Take five minutes to snuggle with them (we all know five minutes is never enough). Five minutes intentionally feeling the physical contact with your pet is enough to help your nervous system down-regulate and settle.
- Have a partner? Be intentional about embracing one another during the holidays and staying connected through loving, physical touch.
You Are Not Alone
The 2020 holidays have the potential to increase your anxiety AND they also have the potential for you to RISE: reflect, imagine, savor, embrace.
You deserve the time to reconnect and recharge from the challenges you have weathered. Reach out to loved ones, old friends, and to the parts of yourself that may need a little extra embrace this season. And remember, you are not alone!
Somatic Therapy Partners specializes in treating anxiety and trauma. If you’re struggling, please reach out!
There is so much love for you here!