The Not So Jolly Holidays…

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10 Ideas for those who are struggling…

So many social media posts and magazine articles highlight how difficult this time of year can be; loneliness, money worries, family arguments, marital breakdown, grieving, lack of sunlight/SAD syndrome, depression…

This is for you if you’re struggling.  As someone who has found Christmas difficult at times, I know how tough it can be.  Through bereavement, divorce, parenting challenges, and also with two close relatives with addiction issues – I’ve sometimes felt overwhelmed with it all.  So yes, this can be a very tricky and painful time of year.

Here are some ideas to help get you through:-

  1.  This WILL pass.  Take one day at a time, knowing that January 2nd and “normal” routine will resume.  Be gentle and forgiving of yourself that you are as you are for this period of time…We feel what we feel…
  2. Writing down how you feel – Journaling has been proven to help.  Don’t judge it or censor yourself.  Just ‘splurt’ it all down on paper.  Burn it afterwards if you wish, but get it out of your head and heart…
  3. Walk  Exercise boosts endorphins, the feel good chemicals.  Briskly walk for  20 minutes if possible (10 if you can’t do more).  But get outside – Nature Heals.     You may not feel like it at all if you’re low  – but do it anyway.  This shifts those heavy, dull feelings – the physicality of low mood/grief/loneliness is a heaviness that can really drag us down.  Yoga – Sun Salutations, twists, back bends – if you don’t have a home practice already there are some great videos on YouTube to give you ideas. Dance – put on some upbeat music – get moving!
  4. Reach out.  Call a friend or relative that you trust.  To be honest, not everyone can handle a friend who’s “down” – I’ve certainly had some crap responses, but also others have surprised me.  It takes bravery I know, but take a deep breath and pick up the phone.
  5. CryYep, do it.  Better out than in.  Don’t bottle up your feelings as that leads to depression and the downward spiral of negative thinking…
  6. Laugh…I know, maybe the last thing you feel like doing.  But we all know that Laughter is the best medicine.  So with plenty of Christmas TV/Films on offer, find one that’s light-hearted.  I do recommend Paddington… J
  7. Flow – anything that guides you into a state of “flow” – where you are completely absorbed in a task or learning shifts you into a much better state of mind.  Mindful colouring, doodling, playing an instrument, baking, juggling (no, I can’t either, but my head and hands would be completely absorbed with trying.)
  8. Read  – get stuck into a good book, takes your mind off things and you enter another world for a little while.
  9. Communicate – so often easier said than done, particularly at this time of year when the hoped for “peace on earth and in my family” hasn’t materialised.  But if possible, sit down with the other half/family member and chat things through…
  10.  Samaritans. They are there 24/7.  Call 116 123 from any phone – for FREE. My heart goes out to you if you feel this desperate – but so often our downward spiral of thoughts digs us a deeper hole. Pick up the phone, please.

Now, whilst I’ve done a standard “10” ideas – here’s a couple more…

  1.  Beware those thoughts – those little Gremlins chuntering away in your head ARE NOT REAL.  Challenge them.  I have a “STOP!” system.  I say it – OUT LOUD if I’m in a bad place – and yes, I do get those moments just like everyone else.   Do these thoughts Help me or Hurt me?  Shift them…see the above list, pick anything, but take ACTION.
  2. Warm bath, go to bed early, read that book, self-soothe, cuddle yourself…Go Gently.

I really hope some of these ideas help you.  If not now, then at another time when you’re feeling low and perhaps overwhelmed?  My own life has seen many tough times and perhaps the best lesson I’ve learnt is to offer myself compassion…So finally…

Metta bhavana, or loving-kindness meditation, is a method of developing compassion. It comes from the Buddhist tradition, but it can be adapted and practiced by anyone, regardless of religious affiliation; loving-kindness meditation is essentially about cultivating love.

Quietly recite the following Loving Kindness Meditation to yourself throughout the day…

May I be safe and protected.

May I be free of mental suffering or distress.

May I be happy.

May I be free of physical pain and suffering.

May I be healthy and strong.

May I be able to live in this world happily, peacefully, joyfully, with ease.