As therapists, caregivers, and coaches we get a double dip of holiday stress, and that makes it especially important to take extra good care of ourselves at this time.
The first dip is our own life situation and our own dealings with the holidays. Like everyone else we are deciding who to spend time with, missing people who’ve gone, and maybe even dealing with the whole gift-giving dilemma.
The second dip is the stress of helping our clients, who are also having all these things going on. Client interactions get more intense at this time and crisis situations go up. It’s a lot. At my new job I’m sitting in a room where people take support calls from employees and family members of major corporations all over the world, and as one of my coworkers said, “People don’t call in because they’re having a good day”.
I’m starting to realize what a gift I had all these years of working only for myself. 10 years away from the corporate rat race, of setting my own hours, of having access to the daylight, of being able to connect and take care of myself. FREEDOM.
But on the path of balancing a life, there’s another kind of freedom too — financial. And there’s suiting up to do the work in the world that Spirit intended for me. On this job I get to do both of those things, and I can already see how this job is going to grow my ability to help others in a HUGE way.
At my job I’m still in training, which can be its own kind of stress — wondering if I’m doing things right, if I am really good enough, smart enough, to help these people and to learn my company’s way of doing that. I realize, on reflection, that so much of my own life and holiday stress comes from wanting to please people and wanting to do everything perfectly. Wanting to throw just the perfect party or give the perfect gift.
So yesterday, my 14th day of training, I practiced being imperfect. I wore very casual Friday clothes to work. I made mistakes on purpose so I could learn. It was a lot less stressful — and a lot more fun. And you know what? My trainers thanked me for asking good questions and engaging fully with the process. Yay for being imperfect!
The other part of my personal holiday stress—the one of missing people—is harder. There’s no easy way to just shrug off the grief I feel about one more Christmas without my Dad, my best friend Kate, and my unborn daughter Raven. Sometimes I try to talk myself out of feeling it, saying “Hey it was so many years ago, why do you still feel that?” Or “Hey, it’s only 2 people really, you were barely pregnant.” But the grief is real and true for me. And this year I also miss my family. I miss my brother, my Mom, my son, and being married, even after 10 years of divorce. I miss the big family gatherings I grew up with, putting up the Christmas tree with my family on my birthday, and a million other little rituals that just won’t happen this year.
The bottom line is to let myself feel it, not to shut it down, and to find healthy ways to comfort myself. Sometimes that comfort comes from looking at old photos of me with the people I love and miss. Other times from doing something extremely nice for myself. Or even just saying a little prayer to the ancestors and talking to these dear ones directly. And a hot bubble bath doesn’t go amiss either.
In the end, I feel good if I get through the holidays without overeating, exhausting myself, or overspending. It’s even better if there is some joy from warm hugs and deep connections sprinkled in there. For me it’s all about an abundance of love and friendship — and this year money too. I am so grateful.
Sending holiday love and blessings to all of you!