What is it about the holidays that often lends us to believe people are just a little “off”? You know what I mean: cranky people, impatient drivers, obnoxious sales pitches, wacky shopping behavior, mopey faces, whining children, stressed-out spouses and partners. We can try to blame it on the phases of the moon or any number of temporary and situational causes, but when it comes down to it, all you want to know is how to survive the end of the year without losing your mind. Here are a few end of the year sanity tips.
1. Take a little time to breathe. Breathing is good. If you don’t know how to breath, try breathing just from your tummy. Slow your breath, so each breath becomes deeper. Stop at the top and bottom of the breath. When it feels comfortable to breath into the tummy, then add the middle of the chest and the upper chest. Perhaps when you breathe out, you can let go off all the crazy and stressful thoughts that are bothering you. When you breathe in, you can invite peace, presence, and attention into your mind.
2. Eat and sleep well, but do neither in excess. Definitely fill up your sleep bank and eat what you need to fuel yourself, but also consider balance so you don’t end up feeling groggy and sick from oversleeping and fattening foods.
3. Look your loved ones in the eyes without saying a word. Look upon them with love and compassion, as if you might not see them again for a long while. You’ll see so much more in them, and it will help you look through their weaknesses without over response.
4. Laugh. A lot. Laugh until it hurts. Laugh until you are pretty sure you’ll become hypoxic. Then return to point #1.
5. Move your body around. You were meant to move. I know I’m repeating myself through the year by telling you to move around. Every time you move, you become aware of your intimate connection with yourself. You’ll treat yourself better and better when you can actually FEEL the “you-ness” of you, including your body.
6. Look at something beautiful. If there is nothing beautiful to look at in nature around your home or work, look at beautiful pictures on the Internet, or listen to beautiful music. Beauty softens us, even when we’re constantly bombarded with stories of loss, abuse, violence, tragedy, and deep suffering. Beauty allows us to face those things with a strong and courageous inner life.
7. Take your medications. Medications include vitamins and minerals, supplements, and whatever else holds your body together. If you’re on psychotropic medication, don’t go off it because it’s the holidays. If you are taking Vitamin D therapy, don’t forget to get some UV rays by going outside.
8. Cultivate moments in the art of doing nothing. Young working professionals seem lost to this art. If you don’t understand this, try meditation in very small time slots (i.e. five minutes at a time), and attend to your breath. See how calm your mind can be when it isn’t being forced to work on anything.
9. Kiss. You don’t have to play tonsil hockey. I mean, kiss kids on the cheeks, kiss friends and family (forehead, cheeks, where appropriate), kiss your pets, and kiss your lover.
10. Let go. I often watch people go a bit nutty after an altercation or difficult conversation. They can’t seem to let go, and their unhappy feeling ruin the next few hours or days because of their choice to ruminate. Let go.
The Seattle Direct Counseling office will be closed from Dec. 26, 2011 through January 2, 2012. I’m getting some much needed rest for a few days, and I’ll also be preparing for the restructuring of my practice to include both my time at the office, adding an Associate, and preparing for a part-time return to Nursing to continue fulfilling my career goals and licensure requirements. After January 23, 2012, there will be more available daytime hours for appointments. If you have referrals, now is the time to refer them! If you need business cards, please let me know.