Mind Your Mind
It’s always an emotional moment after I meet with my last counselling client of the year. Another year is turning and it feels bittersweet: time is passing but the people I meet and the counselling work just keeps getting more meaningful. And for that I am very grateful.
And as my counselling work ends for the year, my mind goes to the next chapter: the holidays. I’ve written about this topic before, but this year is different. With a pandemic that has lasted longer than many of us even dreamed was possible, and which we still are in the thick of, it seems extra-important this year to reflect and string some words together.
Some of us are facing family situations where we are unable to socialize with loved ones: for some folks this is painful, for others this is a relief. Others find themselves alone during this season and this may bring up sorrow, joy, indifference or a collection of other feelings.
As a counsellor, I’m privy to hearing about holiday situations which are often less than ideal, and I’ve had plenty such experiences myself over my lifetime; but I’ve had some peaceful times too, at this time of year, and this all seems to relate to whether or not I’m minding my mind.
And let me just say, at the risk of sounding obvious, that this is just one counsellor’s take on what it means to look after my mind during the holidays. You will have ways that work best for you. Further, I’m going to keep this article brief in the service of minding my mind this holiday. Let’s put this principle into action!
What Minding My Mind Means to Me For The 2020 Holidays
If any of you, like me, have ever struggled with expectations, (flashback to 20 years ago, assembling cookie jars at 2am), I can’t think of a better year than 2020 to keep things simple. COVID has forced many of us revisit challenges like perfectionism and realize that nothing this year is business as usual, so why try to make it so? Every year, for example, I make knitted items for my family. I am 1/3 of the way through one hat and it’s progressing very slowly, so I’ve adjusted my goal for knitted gifts to be given sometime in Winter, maybe even Spring. Who doesn’t like a present in the dreary month of February?
Doing Fun Things
And by fun, I mean things that delight me and that are worthy for that reason. Not because they’re perfect, or Instagrammable or rocking others’ world. Fun this week was walking in the rain, at night, looking at holiday lights. Fun might be baking something new (cinnamon-cardamom rolls, anyone?) or playing with my cat Baby.
Not for exercise necessarily, but to feel alive. To remember that my body does things other than sit still in a chair. Great for counselling but not necessarily physical vitality.
Kindness towards oneself is a practice, not a concept. It takes courage to value oneself and to act from a place of adequacy, without succumbing to self-pity or other emotions that disempower us. And if we are overwhelmed by such emotions, please reach out for support.
The Internet is replete with ideas for reaching out during the pandemic but what works best for you? During this time, many of us—including yours truly—have had moments when it feels easier not to reach out, not to seek support, not to have human contact. When I challenge myself to what I am avoiding, I am reminded by how important it is, and how vital connection is to the human condition.
Choosing to Cope
Coping is a choice and judging our efforts (however imperfect)—or choosing not to judge them—LINK are choices as well. We are all different, situations change and there is no one size fits all strategy LINK.
We hear this all the time, but how do we practice it? I like to consciously think about what I am grateful for and I like to be specific. Specific seems to yield more options to choose from and is a practice that is grounded in the real world. “I like it when I open my closet and find clean pants,” vs “I’m grateful to have clothes.” But if big and broad floats your boat, I say, go for it!
And speaking of gratitude: thank you dear readers, all of you, for reading. For being interested. And for taking care of yourselves in whatever ways work for you.
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