Avoiding Explosions: Check-In with the Heart for the Holidays

The time between Thanksgiving and the New Year rush causes more stress than most any other period.  Between high expectations, pressure to buy perfect gifts and duties to family and friends it’s easy to lose sight of one’s feelings and forget about self-care. Often explosions come when we’re not keying in to emotions.  They build up beneath the surface and remain buried there until they burst out in unexpected, moments and words slip out that may injure others.  Bringing feelings to light through writing makes them conscious.  Awareness of deep-lying sentiments about spending time with family and friends or coping with office parties and Christmas shopping can help to prepare for these events in healthy ways.  

I love to use writing as a way of taking a mental pause.  I set aside a few moments at a cafe or in a quiet place at home where I will not be disturbed, then I sit down and check in with how I’m feeling by writing about whatever pops up.  There’s no structure, no worry about where it will go or if the writing will be any good.  I write for my eyes only as a way of paying attention to what’s going on inside of my body, mind and spirit. 

The process is simple and familiar: 

1) set the intention to check in with yourself through writing;

2) schedule a time;

3) write continuously without stopping for the amount of time you set.  Sometimes five minutes   
    will open the gate to expressing those deeper feelings about upcoming situations.

If you’re at a loss for a words or nothing comes, then continue to repeat one word like peace or contentment (or whatever feels appropriate for you).  Write the word over and over until something else comes in.  I’ve had people tell me that simply writing a single uplifting word non-stop can transform how they feel. 

This exercise is a way of listening to your heart during a period when you may be required to pay attention to everyone except yourself.  Awareness of emotions opens the door to transforming them.  By knowing in advance that a situation will challenge you, you can resolve to speak kindly and actively promote holiday harmony.  We can’t often change our environment or the people we love and live with, but we can become consious of our attitudes and learn to accept others as they are.  It’s a first step in accepting ourselves unconditionally.


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