It’s an interesting time of year. Especially this year. I’m finding that there is more stress in my office – people are struggling with everything from depression to new cancer diagnoses to severe anxiety over the state of the nation to concerns for those in/leaving Aleppo to fears related to Russia and the last election to family issues surrounding get togethers – whether Christmas, Hanukkah, or other family times to concern for the rights of all groups – LBGTQ, Dakota Sioux at the pipeline location, cultures, and ethnicities of all kinds. I’m finding the issues as numerous as the people listen to and speak with and yet as consistent. And I’m finding that at the end of this week, many are needing more support than usual. And this isn’t just clients – it’s also friends and loved ones. The end of 2016 is heralding more anxiety than I’ve seen in my office in a very long time.
So, how to manage? How to find the moments of enjoyment? To allow peace in at a level that surpasses the heightened emotional state. I’ll share some of what I find personally helpful. Perhaps some will resonate with you.
About the World: Choose one issue that you can take action on and then decide what it will be.
Is there an issue calling you more than another? Some protest, some pray, some accept, some wait to see, some advocate, some chant. If your choice is pray, then pray daily about that issue at a certain time, and then put it away. If you advocate, find a group that you can work with on this. Or go to a vigil of peace. Donate to a group. But choose that one thing – we can’t deal with everything – we can’t impact everything – but we can choose one and be one.
Here are some resources:
Aleppo: Doctors without Borders, International Rescue Committee, International Committee of the Red Cross
Dakota Pipeline: Walk a labyrinth to support Standing Rock, consider how others are doing it through unique ways such as the City of Seattle, or find other creative means.
Fears for America/Russia/Future : Check out Bend the Arc Jewish Action PAC, meditate for world peace or bring it down to just the USA, or consider the meaning in Rumi’s words and decide what step you can take to prosper this idea:
Out beyond ideas of wrong and right,
there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.
Remember to limit all your activity to a specified amount of time so that it doesn’t leak out into your entire day and life. Perhaps 10 minutes a day? Perhaps an hour? No more than that – you do need to also live the life you’ve got.
About Family and Friends and Demands: Well, this seems to always bring challenges during holiday times. Holidays are wonderful and yet the pain of childhood, difficult interactions with someone in your family, or just managing all the family requests and friend requests can be challenging. Take charge of it this weekend.
Sit down with your spouse/partner/self and list all the possibilities for the next two weeks. The parties, services, friends you want to see or those who want to see you, the things you want to do alone, the things you want to do together. Now – what is realistic? Cull it down in some fashion. Perhaps going from:
ALL the requests and hopes
Those you really want to do
Those you really do NOT want to do
Those you need to do – add to the really want to do list
That’s your list – what you’re going to do.
Now take out your calendar and put each of these items into the family calendar. Add the professional demands as well. Is there a conflict of items? If so – decide what to do. Modify the times, limit the activity, decline an invitation, make a choice not to do one.
See how the final calendar looks. Then see how you’re feeling about it. If you are immediately tense, then perhaps something must go. Look at it again – and breath. If you are finding the peace doesn’t improve, then take a break, go back to it.
My personal recipe for a better holiday season:
1 cup spiritual time
1 cup exercise
1 cup demands for chores around the house
2 cups relaxation time – read, watch a movie, extra time with Murphy (the dog), an extra walk
2 cups family time
2 cups friend/social time (I’m an introvert though, an extrovert may need more, adjust to taste)
Add spices to taste (music, candles, cuddly pj’s, a cup of decaf tea, a special book)
Mix with care and then spoon out into daily portions.
Sprinkle liberally with love.
Take only one portion each day!
Ongoing Concerns: This is the depression, new cancer diagnosis, health concern, business challenge(s), etc. All of this I believe we need to both care for and limit. There are only so many business days between now and the 31st of December. Only so many hours at work. And even if we need the MRI for the dog, the PET scan to evaluate cancer and how it’s spreading – or not, the blood test results for our health concern, or the resolution of our depression – only so much CAN happen in the next 15 days.
Today, for example, I needed to schedule an MRI for Murphy. And no matter how much I wanted that done today – I could not control all of those who had to work to make that happen. So, I had to work to accept, look, I’ve done all I can, it’s either going to be scheduled today, or I’ll see what I can do on Monday. One last call came and it happened. Then the printing job came back not exactly as it was expected to look. I could get upset – or I could realize it looks fine, just not as expected. So…acceptance was in order. But each was a choice. I wish I could say I reacted so well each day, I don’t, I’m not perfect, but thankfully today I was able to work on acceptance one thing at a time. And, in the midst, I kept a priority to be present to my clients – anything else could wait.
So, what am I suggesting? Again, decide what and how much time to give the items on your agenda. Today mine were;
- Get Murphy to vet
- Take action on what vet suggests
- See clients
- Write blog
- Look at report
- Handle emails
What helped was the agenda set ahead of time. And knowing that I could always add more – if I had time. But otherwise, this was it. Tonight – that’s different. I see tea, a good book, and music in my future. But for now – I’m finishing up the business, then going to do some shopping.
So – let’s all try this – one day at a time. One agenda item at a time. And remember the mix – include some spirituality (today it’s music for me) and exercise (walking).
May you find your own recipe for peace today.