The Power of Acceptance: Embracing Change for a Brighter Future
Guest Blog by Karen Graham, Panacea Canada
Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart... UnknownApparently the holiday season is now in full swing, because advertisers are working themselves into their usual frenzy and decorations are starting to appear around town. Making elaborate plans for the holidays can set us up for stress by creating expectations that are difficult or impossible to meet. Remember last year? Did you find yourself trying to squeeze in one more social event and finish the shopping and the perfect gift wrapping of the perfect gifts and do all the baking and get the decorations up outside and find the perfect tree and visit with all your relatives (even the ones you aren't particularly close to) AND find peace and joy? Sound familiar? Let's look at how to have holiday joy in recovery, enjoy life, and stay sober.
The following are a few ideas to assist you in creating a joyful, peaceful holiday season:Determine your priorities and plan around them: Try to ensure that the plans you make reflect your values and priorities. If spending time with family has a higher priority than going to another party, commit to the higher priority choice. Ask yourself, "does this activity/purchase/event reflect my values? How will it bring me joy?"
Don’t over-commit: We can all use some strengthening of our "no" muscle. Learning to say no to events, shopping, cookies, one more glass of wine and the expectations of others comes more easily when we decide to stop acting out of obligation and start acting in our own best interests. Think back to a time when the word yes flew out of your mouth while your brain screamed NO! If you resented saying yes, chances are that the people to whom you said yes felt that resentment and the whole situation was lose-lose.
Don’t be a slave to obligations: If you hear yourself using the word "should", consider carefully what your motivation really is. I should send a card to that person or I should do all the baking this year, or I should get the tree up by December 15th are all signals that you're acting out of obligation to some external force, rather than acting out of a sense of joy or love. Spend time on things you choose to do rather than doing what you feel obligated to do. When your are "at choice" you invite joy into your life.
What's the real gift?: Consider re-thinking your gift giving patterns. Is it possible that some holiday stress relates to trying to find gifts for people who need nothing? Would it be more meaningful to make a donation, in their name to their favourite charity? Better yet, consider volunteering your time to help out this year.
Let go of perfection: This is a great time to drop your expectations for perfection from yourself and others. These create stress, because no one can live up to the ideals you've created. Know that you’re doing your best and let go of the outcome. Have fun in the moment!
Focus on Self Care: Taking care of yourself ensures that you have more than enough energy to take full advantage of the season and bring joy to people who are special to you. Make time each day to take care of yourself. Surround yourself with whatever brings you holiday joy including family, friends, decorations, music.
Remember what it's all about: Make quiet time for yourself to reflect on what’s important for you in the holiday sense. Perhaps you would like to light a candle and reflect on everything for which you are grateful. It's a great time to start a gratitude journal, with entries each day that reinforce all the positive things in your life.
1. Identify your highest value for the holiday season: that one most important ingredient that makes the season meaningful and brings you joy. Write this down and use this as your "filter" whenever you are feeling overwhelmed or over-committed. Write it prominently wherever you keep track of your social engagements. If the things that are overwhelming are not in harmony with your highest value, ask yourself why you're participating in them and re-evaluate.
2. Create a list of delicious daily habits and commit to ensuring that you do something from your list every day throughout the holidays. Some examples: Connecting with a friend; Meditating; Goofing around with a child or pet; Eating nourishing food; Reflecting on the positive things in your life; Reading great books; Laughing; Lighting candles; Listening to music; Getting outside to ski or snowshoe.
3. Practice saying "no". For the next little while, say "no" in your head to every request that comes along, and notice how you feel. Give yourself that few extra seconds to consider saying maybe, or no instead of yes.
4. Re-evaluate your holiday traditions. While some traditions bring you joy and meaning, there may be some that create stress and disappointment. Take a critical look at traditions and consider them in light of your highest value. Maybe it's time for some "new traditions". En-joy!
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