It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and yet for so many of us it can be somewhat difficult. Perhaps it is the stress of putting presents under the tree, a family member who complicates your life, or the never ending assault of social obligations. For as long as I can remember I’ve experienced some level of melancholy around Christmas. Playing Joni Mitchell’s “River”, on repeat, daily, from Thanksgiving to Christmas Day. And while I used to wish away these feelings, in recent years I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty of sadness. The emotion can be a healing in brief doses, without leaving room for wallowing or ruminating. Some call this having tea with your dragon.
The idea is a simple one: make a cup of hot tea, sit down in a quiet relaxing place, and let your mind wander to the sorrow or sadness that seems off limits. When you finish your cup of tea, simply focus your attention on the present moment, and move on. Sounds ridiculous, right? I thought so to, until I began to realize creating space for feelings that we tend to bury made me happier. It also means you are less prone to break out into tears at the most unexpected moments (think hallmark commercials in mixed company).
Other things I’ve found to beat the holiday blues include taking a long walk in nature, practicing present moment awareness while completing seemingly mundane tasks (ironing, taking a shower), reminding yourself to be grateful for friends to entertain, food to bake, and presents to wrap. Or how about old fashioned giving? Buying people coffee in a drive-thru line has been known to create an all day high. But lets also remember giving can be something so very simple, such as a smile or acknowledgement. For better or worse, we tend to communicate with others remotely through technology, e.g. smartphones. Why not surprise someone and say hello in the parking lot or grocery store. Simple kindness goes a long way during the holidays.