For many of us the holidays are a time of celebration. For many of us the holidays are a time of sorrow. Sometimes they are both. It is normal and natural for this season of heightened emotional energy to be either or both.
It is important that we, as Dr. Hill says, follow the energy of our experience, whether it be sorrow or celebration. We follow the energy by remaining present to the moment, by Ooooing each other and ourselves.
Here are seven practices we can use to process and follow the emotional energy of this season:
-Do the Core Emotion Wheel. This could happen around the dinner table or as part of a bedtime routine, or even via a phone call or Facetime with a spouse, parent, child, sibling or friend. Remember to simply Oooo every emotion that is shared, including our own.
-Begin the day with morning pages. Ideally, this will be three, stream of consciousness, hand-written pages as close to the time we wake up as possible, though they are still effective if done in the afternoon or at night. Morning pages can help move our thoughts and emotions from within us, onto the page, thus lifting some of the burden we are carrying while providing mental clarity.
-Take a walk alone or with a friend or family member. Breathe deeply while outside. Inhale the beauty and simplicity of nature and exhale the stress or worry or sadness. Or, if walking does not feel like an option, take a moment to stand or sit outside in the cold air. Even a few minutes outdoors can be enough to renew, refresh and reset.
-Gift a counselling session for Christmas. An hour with a skilled therapist can provide more movement than months of trying to process our emotions on our own. Family, marriage, and individual counselling is an invaluable tool for our mental health, marriages and other relationships, including those with our children.
-Minimize media input. Between social media, google, blogs, the news, TV shows, movies, books, magazines, newspapers, texts, emails, phone calls, messages, and even snail mail, billboards and advertising at the grocery store, the amount of information we take in every day is astonishing. Every one of those inputs stimulate thought and emotion. We can take responsibility for this aspect of our emotionall health by creating intentional boundaries around those inputs.
-Take responsibility for our needs. Emotions are messengers of needs. If we slow down and listen, we can begin to decipher what needs our emotions are pointing us toward. We can practice this by saying: I feel ______. I need ______. Will you help me? It is vital for our well-being that our needs be met and it is our right as human beings to have those needs met.
-Practice gratitude by speaking and/or writing what brings us joy. Try to name at least one or as many things as come to mind. Include moments from the present day or from the previous week or month.This is a great practice to include in our mealtimes, bedtimes, on walks, in the car and in our morning pages. Write it. Speak it. Share it with friends and family. This is an ideal tool for processing our joy.
These practices can help us process and follow the emotional energy of this season, and, in so doing, reclaim and proclaim our human right to celebrate, to mourn, to connect, to rest, to exist.
Try one of these practices this week! Notice how you feel before, during and after. It would bring me joy to hear about your experience!