How To Soothe Your Nervous System this Holiday Season
It’s the time of year of Holiday parties and family gatherings; of fights, conflict, and discord. Tis the season!
For many people, this time of year is greeted with a strange combination of excitement and dread. We look forward to seeing a beloved family member and are filled with anxiousness that Uncle Karl or Aunty Karen are going to spread their toxic opinions.
Below are a few tips for calming your heart and soothing your nervous system.
1) Bubble. Before you go to any party or gathering, take some time to pause and wrap yourself in a bubble of love. Stop, close your eyes, and take a deep breathe. Think about the word “love” and choose a color and feeling that directly corresponds with your understanding of love. Maybe the color is blue, like a summer sky or pink like a glowing Hawaiian sunset. Perhaps the feeling is soft like a warm comfortable sweater or plush like a fuzzy winter robe. Now, visualize, imagine, or simply think about those colors and feelings enveloping you, holding you in their embrace. Let that embrace be like a beautiful bubble that fully surrounds you. Breathe the experience in and let it flow into your heart. Watch as your heart fills up and overflows as every heart beat and pulse pumps that color and feeling into every cell of your being deep down into the marrow of your bones.
In your minds eye, see yourself walking down the street, driving in your car to your next destination. Think of this like a rehearsal. You are practicing walking, talking, and connecting with everyone around you as you are held and protected in this bubble of love. If anyone tosses an emotional spear in your direction, watch it as it bounces off your bubble of love and notice how you no longer need to be reactive to the toxic mansplaining or judgments of anyone.
2) Gratitude. Once you are already at the event or gathering, use these words whenever anyone criticizes you or you feel judged or attacked, “Thank You!” When someone goes out of their way to tell us, often in great detail, how disappointed they are or how we have failed or disappointed them, saying thank you will completely disarm their negativity. Set a boundary and do not engage. I personally like to say, Thanks You” and watch them as they squirm in surprise not getting the response they expected.
3) Walk away. It’s important for us to remember that you are the governor of your body, breath, voice, life. Other people may be trying to control or manipulate you but ultimately, they can’t unless you let them. Learning to walk away from anyone that is abusive is a powerful experience. Combining this with the words “thank you”, as described above, is an even more powerful and affirming experience.
4) Breathe. So many of us actually forget to breathe. Even when we aren’t facing stressful situations, our breath is often shallow and we are only breathing from the top, shoulder area of our lungs. The old adage of breathing deeply for a slow count of five helps us to not be overwhelmed. Our minds don’t get caught up in reactive thoughts and we are able to maintain a calmness, even a grace. Taking a slow deep breath also signals to people around us that we are not going to engage with negativity. The silence also can give room for someone else to step in and redirect the conversation and potentially defuse the situation.
5) Be the Love. Recognize that when people are cruel, judgmental, and unkind, it’s probably because, on some level, they are hurting and it is their wound that is doing the talking. When we can step back and not take things personally, we have a much better time. This act of “chunking up” (yes, that’s a technical term) gives us space. This negative experience is a call to practice walking, speaking, thinking in the energy of Love. It is an opportunity for us to grow and step into a higher potential. Pain, and even nasty negative people, can call us into higher, happier states of being if we hear the call and choose Love over fear. The initial situation of conflict might not feel good in the moment and I can guarantee that after the fact, when you look back at the situation, you will have increased your self-esteem, grown stronger, and, most likely, even gathered a few admirers. People will notice the breath and grace you demonstrate.
And so, my dear reader, step out, go to that party, enjoy that family gathering in confidence that you are well. Keep breathing in the Love, setting boundaries, practicing gratitude, and becoming an even more amazing human being with the understanding that you are making the world a better place. You got this!