By Sara Smith, RN, BSN
Leaning into our values as we celebrate the holidays
For many of us, the word “holiday” can bring up many powerful feelings, thoughts, and memories. We feel all of them in our bodies as well. Excitement and anxiety are common responses, and in our bodies, the feelings of excitement and anxiety are nearly identical. We just label them differently. This gives us an opportunity, since we can use anxiety as energy for focusing on what’s important to us.
Because holiday thoughts and feelings are powerful, many of us learned to use something to calm down or not to feel at all. That something could be a substance or a behavior. In some cases, the goal may have been to feel more joy and more connection. For many of us what seemed to help us manage life turned on us. All the challenges of life remained, but we had to build genuine life skills to cope with our emotions and sensations.
Focusing on a few simple values may help people in recovery and anyone else on the journey of being human. Focusing on our values is part of spiritual wellness, which is our focus for the month of November.
Feel inside to your thoughts, emotions, and sensations. They are never wrong—they are just yours. Find a safe person and share them. Supportive people may have a different perspective or will validate and accept you as you are. You can limit, at least temporarily, contact with people who are not supportive of you as you are at this time.
Connect with a community of like-minded people
Who accepts you as you are? The expectations that arise in the holiday season can be intense. When a person is new to recovery, bridges with loved ones may have burned. We may not have money to buy gifts. Make connections and accept help from people who may be further down the path you are traveling.
Focus on generosity
Being generous with our time is just as important as being generous with other types of gifts. For some of us, this can be a challenge. Just showing up can be a gift. Remember that you have value just as you are, and this may be a good time of year to come to see that. Every gift needs a receiver. We may accept more than we give at some points in our lives, but a giver, a receiver, and a gift are all necessary. Practice being generous and accept generosity from others. (If you connect with people in person, do so safely and within the recommendations of your local health department during this time of COVID. It’s generous to focus on health and safety for your whole community and for yourself.)
Remember to look inward, look outward, and share what you find, whether you are in recovery or simply walking the path of life with those around you.
Tip: Spend a little time thinking about the values that are most important to you. Each day, do one thing that supports what you value, whether it is spending time with friends and family, taking time for a spiritual practice, or doing something positive for yourself or those you care about.