Emotional Survival Tools for The Season

It is on! This time of year is full on! It comes at us from all angles, stretching us in all directions. A landmine of big emotions!  Here are a few tools to help you navigate:
 Despite all the joy and festivities at this time of year, a lot more than just tinsel and snowflakes can get stirred in us. As soon as there's an expectation of being jolly, everything but joy can come to the surface.  The more pressure we feel to be happy and have fun, the more we may feel quite the opposite.  To make matters worse, we can start beating ourselves up for being so negative. The cycle gets spinning and it's all down hill from there. 
So, let's just take a good solid look at this Christmas/ holiday package with both eyes wide open. Yes, it's a time for connection, family, community and love, however, it can also connect us to our loneliness, losses, grief, sadness, isolation and anger. Not because we are negative, but because we are human.  Our challenge is to hold it all, our joy and our sorrow.   
We get into trouble when we try to shut one side of it down, the joy or the sorrow. When we do that, the difficult feelings intensify and inevitably come out sideways at the most inappropriate times. If we push feelings down they will pop up.  So instead of pushing anything down, let's acknowledge what is going on within.
Acknowledge the part of us that may be into the festivities, but equally, if not more importantly, acknowledge the part that may feel exhausted, stressed out and perhaps wants to cancel life for a few weeks.
Acknowledgement is a brilliant and underused tool!  Once we acknowledge whatever comes up as a valid part of who we are, it is much easier to steer.  We don't have to keep fighting ourselves and we have more fuel to navigate the festive season.  

I imagine you'll bump into a few "No's" over the next few weeks....No, I don't want to....cook for 20 people, wrap another gift, talk to Uncle Jim, be on my own another night, finish this project.....Whatever it is, "No's" can come storming into our life, especially at this time of year. Bah humbug!  However, knowing how to navigate them makes for a smoother time. 

First of all, recognize we all find ourselves in "No" moments; the ones where there is no cell in our body that wants to do whatever "it" is that is required in that moment. The kind of "no" that comes along and there is absolutely no way out.  It could be dinner with in-laws, dealing with an ex or sitting alone when it feels like the whole world is feasting together.  It could be continuing to live without a loved one or setting a much needed boundary with a friend.  Whatever "no" arrives at your door, use it as an important navigating opportunity.
If we're not paying attention and we meet these "no" moments unequipped, we are vulnerable to crash into feeling victimized by life, or that we are somehow miserable human beings for having such awful feelings, or we might get caught in a nasty pit of anxiety or anger or might just numb right out.  But, all of these carry a massive internal bill that racks up very fast! 
Rather than using those costly methods to manage a "no"....let's do it without crashing into self loathing, blame and shame.
Acknowledgement is your best friend!
Yes, acknowledgement again!  Acknowledge all the feelings about the situation as valid and important even the really awful ones.  The feelings are valid!  They get to be valid, however, they do not get to drive. They do not get to make our decisions. We can say to ourselves " this is a no, there is no part of me that wants to do this....but I've decided for whatever reason that I'm going to do it! I don't have to like it, but I am going to do it" This statement alone helps us navigate these moments with more ease.  No longer are we fighting with our feelings for the drivers seat or beating ourselves up for having feelings. The feelings get to come along for the ride with us through life, full of important information, but we get to drive!
And so, we decide that we are going to do something that we really don't want to do, (maybe talk to a relative that triggers us or whatever it is) aside from acknowledging the part that really doesn't' want to, we want to remember that we can get through it if we take our breath with us. So keep breathing!  
Take one moment at a time.. Just take care of this moment only.  All the rest can wait their turn.  Do not tolerate any moments butting in the line. They can wait.  If you can make it through this moment...when that nasty scary moment comes along you can take care of that moment too.  But you cannot take care of that moment until it is it's here. Be strict. Moments can be rather pushy and trick us into believing we have to sort things our right now!  That is not true. One moment at a time when we are in the territory of a no! Once we have caught our breathe and feel lighter inside then we can think beyond this moment. But when we are in the thick of the feelings, one moment at a time. 
Also, adjust expectations when we are doing something we don't want to do. Remember it takes a lot of extra energy to do something that is a "no", so be kind.  And lastly remember that it will pass. We will get through it... we don't have to enjoy it but it will pass. 
When we can't settle and trust our breath to get us through, then do one of these things to help pass through moments until life becomes doable again:
Make a cup of tea ( if in doubt put the kettle on).
Light a candle 
Take a walk.
​​​​​​​Go out in nature.
If we know how to navigate the difficult feelings and the no's, it frees us right up for more yes's and more joy!
Wishing you deep trust in yourself and in life!