It’s that time of year again. It’s time for surviving the holidays. In our life after loss, they can be filled with triggers! I’ve compiled some of my favorite strategies for not just managing the trigger times, but life in general! Get your notebook out, you’ll want to write these down.
Harness the Power of Focus
Hyper focus forces you to shrink your world down to it’s tiny, individual parts, which is the equivalent to taking a magnifying glass to your life. You no longer “see” anxiety, fear and sadness (for the moment).
Instead, focus all of your intensity on one thing, even if it is making the bed, doing dishes, or cleaning out a drawer. Immerse yourself in it by engaging all of your senses. How does it feel? What do I smell? What do I see?
This short burst of intense focus can be the exact thing you need to refocus your thoughts and calm your nervous system.
Make Physical Labor Your Friend
Did you notice that many of the above mentioned activities required physical labor? Engaging your body, whether in your favorite exercise, a brisk walk, or in a chore forces your mind to stop the spin cycle of emotions! It releases energy and balances the nervous system.
Guard Against Overcommitment
One of the most loving things you can do for yourself is to honestly acknowledge what you can and cannot handle, and then set boundaries with yourself around those lines and honor them!
Decide ahead of time what you can realistically handle, with how, and for how long. As the requests come in via text or phone call, practice saying no with a big smile, even in text! Who can resist a no when it’s delivered so lovingly?
Remember What Is In Your Control
We live in a world that may feel completely out of control. It will help you to remember what is in your control. When you remember that, then you can speak the truth to yourself as a centering activity.
What exactly is in your realm of control?
The thoughts you chose and the actions you take from those thoughts are within your control including: how you show up, your attitude, what you chose to think, what you consume, etc. Everything else is outside of it.
Cultivate Rituals To Ground Yourself
Rituals are beautiful ways to ground and stabilize yourself. They are small actions performed in a specific order, and can be as simple or elaborate as you wish.
A ritual can be as simple as keeping a small rock in your pocket, saying a meditation or grace, or singing a song in a specific context. They don’t have to be elaborate to ground you. They just have to have meaning.
You may choose to have a waking ritual, a winding down ritual, or create a short ritual you can perform when you feel sad.
Cut Back On ALL Of the Medias
It’s probably NO surprise that media is a huge source of anxiety! It doesn’t matter if it is the news or your social media, they both have the power to amp up your negative emotions. Calming your emotions can literally be as easy as changing the channel or putting down your phone.
Get in touch with how you feel when you watch the news or scroll though the holiday photos of happy families. I actually take a break around the holidays because I don’t want to see the carefully polished and posed photographs of adoring families. I prefer the beautiful messiness of real life.
Consider this a grab bag of strategies you can use to survive the holidays this year. Try them on for size, keep the best and toss the rest.
You can do this and I am here to help.