Hello holidays! Thanksgiving and Christmas are almost here. When you think about the holidays do you feel tension and stress, or excitement and joyful anticipation? For many of us the holidays are a combination of both. Perhaps a good place to start is loving ourselves enough to choose what is right for us during two months of festivities. It’s called self-preservation. The best gift we can give ourselves, and those we care about, is kindness, peace, and serenity, especially when we’re surrounded by glitzy advertising and frantic shoppers.
Let’s begin by being realistic about what we can and can’t control. We certainly can’t control other people, long shopping lines, the weather, or traffic, but we can control our thoughts, actions, and reactions. Intentionally letting go of what we can’t change means we let go of tension and worry, and move toward peace. This leaves us less stressed, more empowered, and feeling content. And who couldn’t use more of that during November and December?
If we stop throughout the day and check our thoughts, we will discover how mindful we are, how in tune we are to ourselves. Being aware of our thoughts is a way to diminish the gap between being stressed and functioning at our best. Our thoughts are more powerful than we often realize. Wayne Dyer titled one of his many books Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life. In it he writes, “The journey of your life will change when you emphasize gratitude for all that you are, all that you accomplish, and all that you receive.” The power of gratitude is where it all begins. I’ve started a new habit in practicing gratitude. When I first wake up in the morning I spend five to ten minutes in a gratitude prayer, and when I’m ready to sleep at night I do the same thing. With a focus on life’s generosity, my mind is more peaceful.
Wayne Dyer also wrote, “Watch your thoughts, and when they are anything other than compassionate, change them!” Let’s be kind and compassionate with ourselves this holiday season by doing what we know we need to do to be healthy, serene, and joyful. For those of us who are in cancer treatment, or experiencing other health issues, the need for kind self-care is essential anytime, but especially during the holidays.
We can say “yes” to everything that increases our health, and “no” to overcrowded calendars, draining social situations, and over-spending. Not only will we be happier, but everyone around us will feel the positive difference. Nothing can be poured out of an empty cup so we need to replenish it as often as possible with compassionate self-preservation. Keeping our cup full with self-care is an antidote for stress, and the main ingredient for enjoying the holidays.
To keep us from getting hooked by other people’s expectations we can practice what author M. J. Ryan calls “No Matter What.” Practicing No Matter What involves looking at any situation, like the holidays, clarifying what is most important to us, and setting realistic limits with the intention that, no matter what happens, we want a sense of peace throughout the holidays. When we practice No Matter What we focus on what is truly essential to us, instead of being hooked by external demands or opinions. Even if friends or relatives don’t understand or approve, we know the importance of our commitment to experience holiday peace. Just because other people choose stress doesn’t mean that we need to. Taking charge of our thoughts means we are taking charge of ourselves, and no one can do that for us.
So, No Matter What we will choose our thoughts carefully, No Matter What we will nurture peace within, No Matter What we will practice daily gratitude, No Matter What we will love ourselves through the holidays. There is health, power, and freedom in saying “no,” which is especially needed during November and December. So, even if everyone else is chanting “ho, ho, ho,” you can choose self-preservation by replying “no, no, no,” no matter what.
Until Next Time – Sylvia