By: Angela Kuhns, LPC
The holiday season is upon us and the new year is approaching fast. Our traditions, at their best, are how we mark time and connect to meaning in life. This can be a time to gather, celebrate, reflect, and set intentions. I hope we’re able to do all that AND it is cold- it is dark- many of us are running on fumes. Times like these highlight the complexity of being human and intensify our emotions. We might experience a longing for connection and challenging family dynamics that lead to isolation, fatigue and the pressure to do it all, being surrounded by people and feeling alone, ideas about how things “should” be and the reality of how they really are, ideals of “the most wonderful time of year” and unrelenting grief. It can all be overwhelming and disorienting.
What I most often see and experience in moments of overwhelm is either a shutdown (think feeling numb/disconnected) or a panicked what’s wrong with me and how to do I fix it so I can do more. These are natural responses, sometimes getting us by short-term, and long-term end up wreaking havoc.
It is important to be mindful that we ourselves and others are likely experiencing many intense feelings this time of year. If we feel ourselves slipping into overwhelm, or suddenly just wake up there, it is time to take a break. I mean full on stop. Yes, problem solving and processing are important, and in a state of overwhelm none of us come up with solutions or helpful interpretations.
Step out of the chaos for a moment- This might look like taking a quiet moment in the bathroom, a walk around the block, or acknowledging a worried part and asking it to slow down so we can effectively address what’s coming up.
Reorient- We are physical bodies, this means we first reorient ourselves by grounding in our senses, establishing physical safety, and breathing deep into our bellies.
Acceptance- I know this word can be tricky. Think of a map. Acceptance is just saying these are my current coordinates. You are not saying that what happened to you that led to these coordinates was okay, that this is where
you want/planned to be, that you like where you are, or that you will be staying in this place. Simply, this is where I am right now.
The next right action- Engage with compassion. It may help to think of what you would want for a loved one. Be clear on what is and isn’t within your control, establish realistic expectations and boundaries, and connect back to your values. Take your next action from this place.
Our wellbeing is so much more about embracing the fullness and complexity of our
experiences, who we are, and what we need in any given moment than about trying
harder or pretending everything is ok.
JENNIFER EULBERG, MA, LPC
Welcome Jennifer, our new blogger!
Jennifer is a counselor at Sandhill who specializes in depression, self-esteem, and grief & loss. Get to know Jennifer as she shares her perspectives on life, contemplates value themes, and offers gentle encouragement.
THANK YOU to Stefanie Pisarkiewicz, LPC for her blog contributions from November 2014 - February 2019!