Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Not a Holiday Stress Article
I really don't like articles about dealing with holiday stress. You know them. The lists of: Top 10 Things You Can Do to Get Through the Holidays without Stress; Banish Holiday Stress Forever; and even the hyperbolically punctuated Holiday Stress!!!!!
Some advisers recommend the "be kind to yourself" approach. You know -- the 3M's: massage, meditation, and mood elevators (of the non-pharmaceutical kind, like music and pleasant aromas). A lot of the advice has to do with avoiding family confrontations while consuming excessive amounts of alcohol and sugar,which will not only create irreparable breaches, but leave you feeling like a lonely, bloated, self-loathing toad. Not bad advice -- but family breaches and that toad-like feeling can creep in no matter how hard you try. Holidays can be lightening rods for attracting old wounds, losses, grievances, and shame. And no "10 Tips" can prevent some debacles from happening.
Now, I acknowledge that there are probably many people who can get through the holidays without having to watch endless episodes of South Park or The Twilight Zone. There are probably many for whom the holidays are truly joyous and a time of family, friend, and neighbor good will. There are many principled people who get happiness from serving others during the holidays. I applaud all of you.
This year I really stepped into it. Not only do we have an endless stream of high calorie social engagements, but we are starting on some long overdue (by 30 years) home renovation. We are in the purging stage -- trying to recycle almost all our possessions: furniture, kitchenware, and all manner of assorted items that just fall into the stuff category.
The scenario is complicated by the fact that I'm a tosser and Richard is a keeper. I'm ready to heave into a dumpster unopened boxes that have been taking up prime basement real estate for decades. Richard needs to go through each box and resort items that either have sentimental value or some possible future use. I don't blame him....but it does make me a little crazy (and probably vice versa).
This year, I should have read a few of those holiday stress advice articles. I had a bit of a pain relapse; and I am annoyed with myself for not taking preventative measure (the 3 Ms) and for not being hardy enough to resist the firing up of those beastly pain neurons. So there's that nasty self-censuring voice working hard to get my attention, in competition with my attempts to get ahead of the pain curve before it really accelerates.
Richard can't go against his nature and purge faster. Nor can I totally extricate myself from holiday activities. But what Richard (my sweetie) does is remind me that this pain blip is not forever, and that it will never be as bad as it was before we had tools to control it. And he empathizes. He gives me love and compassion and rooibos tea.
That's the holiday spirit I want to receive and to give.
What are your holiday challenges and joys? And what does holiday spirit mean to you and your partner?