We’re in the thick of the holiday season, so I wanted to share with you the one piece of holiday advice that I live by:
For most of us, the holidays can trigger a lot of thoughts and feelings. We might show up to a party and think:
Oh my god I am so overwhelmed by seeing all of these cookies! I want to eat them all!
Oh my god what if my aunt/dad/second cousin asks me about my job/romantic prospects/recent weight gain?
Oh my god what if my aunt/dad/second cousin looks at me askance and I can tell that they are THINKING judgmentally about my job/romantic prospects/recent weight gain?
All those thoughts and feelings can feel like too much. We can’t be expected to have big feelings and also make nice conversation over the eggnog table or the latke buffet, right? We may be tempted to push these feelings down.
But don’t. Please.
When we push down these sensitivities, we also push down our connection to our inner selves. You know, the kind of connection that would let you know if you were hungry or full. The kind of connection that would tell you if you actually wanted a sugar cookie or if you wanted to be home in your pajamas watching Girls instead.
And when we combine:
(a) a bunch of feelings and thoughts that we don’t usually feel/think,
(b) a loss of connection to our inner guidance about hunger, fullness, and what kind of nourishment our body is actually needing, and
(c) a tendency to eat when we feel stuff (hey, it happens to the best of us)
…the end result is that we might not take the best care of ourselves.
The only solution that I know is to stay sensitive. Yes, you may have to feel a little more than is comfortable, but you’ll also take far better care of yourself. And you may even find yourself connecting more deeply with others, because you are showing up more authentically.
Of course, staying sensitive isn’t always easy. Here are some things that help me:
Journaling before, after, or heck, during social events (I have been known to journal in the bathroom, on the Notes app on my phone).
Having an inner dialogue with yourself about how you are actually feeling, even when you are out at social events. My belly feels tight and I have zinging in my chest and I feel impatient. Interesting. I’ll check back in again later.
Setting boundaries, like, I know it might hurt ___’s feelings, but I’m only going to stay at the holiday party for an hour, because if I stay longer, I will explode with feelings or have to shut them down by eating/numbing out. Setting boundaries means that it feels safe to be sensitive, because you know that life won’t completely overwhelm you.
And above all, please know that I’m rooting for you, with all of this.
Oh, and p.s.: There's a teensy, tiny — okay 100% likely — chance I also shared this advice last year. But I wanted to send something supportive for this unique, sometimes stressful time of year, and this was what was in my heart. I hope it resonates this year, too :)