For some people, the holidays can be a joyous time filled with parties, magical lights, and gifts. But for many others, especially if you're highly sensitive, the holidays trigger more painful feelings, like loneliness, grief, and depression. Whenever there's an implicit expectation that you're supposed to feel only joy, like around a wedding, the shadow feelings find a way of lurking into consciousness. If we deny the shadow, it only grows. So if you want to access your joy during this holiday season, follow these steps:
1. Be willing to feel all of your feelings, including pain, loneliness, or heartbreak.
Pain and joy live in the same chamber of the heart, so when you clamp down on the pain (or any other uncomfortable feelings), you also diminish your capacity for joy. For many people, the holidays trigger feelings of sadness and loneliness, compounded by the expectation that your smile is supposed to sparkle like tinsel. If you allow yourself to tend to your less joyous places, the joy will shine through.
2. Be of service.
There's no quicker way to shift from loneliness and meaningless to connection and purpose than to volunteer and give to others. There are so many ways to give during the holidays, from gathering up toys that your children no longer play with to give to a local toy drive to volunteering at a soup kitchen. The holidays are called the season of giving, and yet quite often it turns into the season of consumption. What will serve you will also serve the planet when you shift your mindset into one of service.
3. Slow down.
We live in a very fast world, and the pace seems to increase to an uncontrollable frenzy during the holidays. Living your life at warp-speed is never conducive to creating a life of joy and fulfillment. If you want to find balance and come back to center, take time each day to practice mindfulness, yoga, journaling, or any other practice that helps you spiral back into your self and slow down to the natural place of life.
4. Spend time in nature.
The best antidote to the glitz, gimmer, and sounds of the holiday season is to spend time in nature. Nature reminds us of what truly matters and allows us to connect to our essential selves, which lives in diametric opposition to the image, fantasy, and focus on material items that can define the holidays. Again, if you're a highly sensitive person, it's particularly easy to find yourself overstimulated during this time. The quiet of nature is the medicine that will help you decompress and unwind back into your place of balance.
5. Create a meaningful ritual.
Many holidays were birthed from or originally contained rituals that were designed to help human beings connect to the seasons and the passage of time in meaningful ways, and yet we seem to travel further and further away from these rich roots each year. To revitalize the meaning inherent to this season, especially the Winter Solstice, consider creating a ritual for yourself, your friends, and/or your family that will remind you of the underlying principles of all rituals: letting go of what no longer serves you and inviting in the qualities that you would like to enhance.
However you choose to celebrate, I wish you a restful and nourishing holiday season.