The Holidays Survivors Guide
Holidays can be full of so much joy and magic. The anticipation of watching our children open presents and squeal with delight. The lights, and smells of traditional baked goods. Gathering around the fire, singing carols and offering service. This time of year and celebrations across religious traditions can leave us feeling all of the feels. But this time of year can also be full of anxiety and dread.
So many people approach the holidays with the reminder that a loved one is no longer with them. Some feel sad for the unborn babies or loved ones who are sick. Some people are lonely without family homes to gather in, and some families are broken or difficult to be around. Some struggle with addiction and others with religious differences. Some have left lifelong family traditions without support. For all of these reasons and so many more, we want to speak to the importance of navigating and surviving a time of year that can be full of trials, stress, and anxiety.
Holiday's can be a beautiful time to think about a loved one who has died. A profound way to honor them could be found in a doing a little ceremony. Donating a gift to someone in need that is in honor of your loved one, or writing them a letter. You could make a memorial wreath or ornament. Decorate a grave with poinsettias or other holiday items. These things won't take away the pain but can offer a place of peace that will fill the space where the anxiety lives. It also sets aside some special time to reflect and remember.
The most important thing to remember during the holidays is your true north it's more important than ever to stay focused on your own sanity, and keep your feet rooted in honoring yourself. We tend to run around carrying the burden of making other people happy. This constant nagging can swallow you whole if you don't set boundaries. Its ok to say NO, and If you are feeling spread too thin, you can use several days before and after the holiday to schedule visits with friends and family, to share gifts, dinners and other celebrations. It doesn't all have to happen on one day.
Pay attention to how you are feeling when you are browsing through your social media. If it's not inspiring you but rather causing stress, anxiety or fear of not being good enough, then self impose some better boundaries. Delete the apps from your phone for a week and take a break. Try being creative without using your phone as a crutch. Sometimes the best ideas are the ones that are born from your own beautiful imagination. You can also try to do more online shopping to avoid crazy crowds and traffic.
If your extended family is full of contention and dysfunction, re-evaluate your intentions. You are allowed to say no to gatherings that make you uncomfortable. Look at the members of your tribe outside of the holidays. Who are the people that offer you support, unconditonall love and make you feel connected every single day? Surround yourself with those people. Sometimes we need to take a break from unhealthy dynamics, especially if there has been personal grief surrounding you. And if you have a great family but can't be with them physically, try video chatting a few times to stay connected and then do something special for yourself.
Acts of service will pull you out of a funk faster than just about anything. When we turn our sorrow and grief outward in service of another, the cracks in our soul are filled with love and joy knowing that we made someone else's journey just a little bit more blessed. Offering this kind of grace to another, helps us realize our own tiny miracles and blessings. We all struggle with different things at different times. Even if the light we have to share seems small, offer it anyway. Someone is sitting all alone in the dark and they will accept it as if its enough to fill the whole room. If you are grieving the death of a loved one, try doing your holiday totally different. Shake it up and make a new memory.
We believe that there is an art to finding joy. The tincture that spins sadness into happiness, suffering into success and brokenness into healing lies in our ability to honor yourself first. To dive deep into your aloneness and find small gifts of gratitude. Protect your sweet and tender hearts this year. Take good care of yourself and say no to anything that doesn't serve you. And remember that aside from the global celebrations and hype, holiday's are just other days. May you all find tiny moments of peace. With all of our love
Tresa + Ashlee
the art of joy podcast (Instagram)
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