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 

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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