Preventing your 'crazy' this Christmas season—by saying NO

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I had a wonderful conversation yesterday with a patient who actively practices mindfulness.

We were laughing that mindfulness (a portion of meditation practice in Buddhism for many centuries) is both a life-saver and incredibly difficult. The difficulty arises when you are aware of your thoughts or feelings (being mindful), and you still completely ignore them and continue repeating your habitual ways of responding to something and expecting different results. And then you see the consequences of that, which often is frustration and sadness, or acting out (over-eating, over-drinking, lashing out, having a meltdown).

If you think you’re enlightened,
go home to spend a weekend with your family

Pema Chodron

So, what do you do when you're backed into a corner during the holiday season?

No can be a very powerful word.

If we are really honest with ourselves, and say no more frequently, we may not feel as over-extended.

Starting however to say no begins with an awareness of what you actually need.

Write down on a piece of paper before the season begins how you feel about the events you're attending/responsibilities/obligations you have. Where can you recover your energy? If you feel like you're going to blow a gasket, how can you take a few breaths and take care of yourself? Can you say *gasp* no?

To give myself as an example, an introvert, I generally find group hangouts kind of exhausting. I'm really good for the first few hours and then my energy takes a sharp dip. Shortening the length of time I spend in conversations, going for walks in nature, breathing in the bathroom...these are all tools that I use to listen to myself. If I don't want to go to an event, I really just don't. If I don't want to go, but I must, then I shorten the length of time that I attend. If I need to bring something, I find the easiest recipe that takes the shortest amount of time and less finicky work. These are my ways that I say no.

The important thing to notice about all of these things, is that no one notices I'm even doing them, and truthfully, no one cares! They're all worried and concerned with their own goals. I'm responsible for my Yes! and no, and only I can decide where those lines are drawn. Sure, I can tell people notice or get offended at times, but is that my responsibility? No, their feelings are not my responsibility either. We are all responsible however for our individual wellness and self-care.

This is not easy! Just remember to be kind to yourself during this learning process. Get back on the proverbial horse when it doesn't go as you anticipate.

Here's hoping you feel calm and centred this holiday!

To your health!
Aoife

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