• Brettney Douglas-Al Hindi

How To Navigate Through A Tough Holiday Season

It's been 9+ months since we've endured the traumatic events of the pandemic and lockdown, not to mention the day-to-day stressors of life. Besides winter being just around the corner, and us having less daylight and spending more time inside; it seems like we cannot escape the darkness. Our mental health is put into question like never before, and with so much happening around us, we have to work harder to arm ourselves with spiritual practices that can help us to recharge after hard days.

I have to continually remind myself of the importance of self-compassion, grace, and patience in these trying times; and to be mindful not to stretch myself too thin. Thankfully, being in therapy has helped me to process my emotions healthily, and reminds me to show up for myself just as I would with others.

Initially, I didn't take much stock into how different this holiday season would be. I had already prepared myself mentally to adapt to this very unusual way of life, and thought I had it in a bag, until the morning of Thanksgiving. I had marinated my chicken and pot roast the night before and had set my alarm to call my brother so that we can make our collard greens together at 7 am. After spending the first half of my morning cooking, and cleaning; it dawned on me that I was only preparing food for my little family of four. Coming from a big family, I'm so used to all of us being together during this time to enjoy a meal, and share laughs. The few of us that do reside in Atlanta are trying to bring some of those traditions here, but for obvious reasons, we felt it was best for us all to stay with our individual households.

I kept it together as long as I could, then completely lost it once I took part in Christina's beautiful special holiday edition guided meditation. All the pinned up emotions I had been holding in for God knows how long, just came bursting out. As opposed to resisting it like I typically would do, I just surrendered to the moment and allowed myself to feel, and it was so cleansing.

For those of us who are struggling in this holiday season, I want to encourage you to permit yourself to feel whatever it is that you are feeling. Take care of yourself, and lay low if that's what you want to do, and don't allow anyone to make you feel guilty or bad about it.

Here's how you can cope:

1. Set clear boundaries

This is a difficult time for so many people, so expect that folks will be a lot more expressive emotionally, or shut down completely depending on whatever personal battles they're dealing with. Prepare for the fact that some people may be in rare form, and may try to verbally attack you or question your intentions. That does not mean that you have to subject yourself to their emotional manipulation or bullying. Be clear and upfront about what types of conversations and activities that you are comfortable or not comfortable with partaking in.

2. Focus on gratefulness

When you are going through, the last thing you want to think about it is having anything to be grateful for. Trust me, I get it. But, in the midst of these unparalleled times, we're reminded that life is so fleeting and that things can change in the blink of an eye; good, bad, or indifferent. As opposed to focusing on what went wrong or worrying about tomorrow, do your best to stay present, and live for the day. Take inventory of the things that are going right, or if you can't find a reason; be grateful for the fact that you are alive to see another day. Shift your focus. Elevate your thinking so that you can have the peace of mind that you deserve.

3. Create a new tradition

Do something new this year. Plan a staycation, visit a friend or relative (safely), go for a hike or go to the beach. Donate to a charity or worthy cause, or perhaps do some community service. Take lots of videos, and pics to serve as a healthy memory that you can look back on.

4. Unplug

We're all guilty of aimlessly scrolling on social media when we're bored or need a distraction, and sometimes that can do more harm than good. Take some time to decompress, process, and sit in your thoughts; or simply just engage in a feel-good activity that doesn't require much. When I'm feeling down or overwhelmed, getting some fresh air, baking, or turning on some good music can give me that extra boost of energy or lift my spirits.

5. Build a support system

We are not meant to do life alone. With these times looking and feeling much different than we are accustomed to, we must do our best to stay connected to people, even if it's from a distance. Reach out and check on another individual who may be experiencing something similar, and offer to keep them company if they're up for it. Lean into people that care for you, and allow them to be there to comfort you and hold space for you so that you don't feel alone.

6. Write positive affirmations that reflect the life you want to manifest

Get clear about what you want, and make it plain. Write it down, and post it somewhere that you can see it daily. I am big on reciting and affirming myself in the form of positive self-talk. Declare that you are worthy of living life on your own terms and that the things that you desire are possible. Speak these things into existence, and practice them in the mirror every day to remind yourself of what you set to accomplish.

No matter how difficult this holiday season may seem, remember that you've got what it takes to make it through.

Healing is possible. Joy is possible. Peace is possible. Love is possible.- Josefina H. Sanders

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