We all want the holidays to be a special time for everyone. This includes ourselves. For me personally, not only do I want to see smiles and joy on everyone else’s face, but I want to feel that ideal peace and serenity of the season too. However, for many years this eluded me because I would push myself so much making everything “perfect” for everyone else that by the time the activities and celebrations arrived, I was completely worn out and in pain. For women with fibromyalgia, I know that you know what I’m talking about.
Several years ago, I gave up the idea of a “perfect” holiday. And it was probably the best thing I ever did. I decided it was not my place to make it perfect, but it was my place to enjoy it right along with everyone else. Not only did the pain and fatigue get better, but I was also able to deal with the pain that I experienced much easier. This is when I learned to embrace inner peace above all else.
Here are my 5 strategies for fibro hacking the holidays to find inner peace in the midst of this busy season:
- Release Resistance
If you find yourself exhausted or in pain, recognize it and release your resistance to it. Listen to your body and heed the direction it is giving you. This may sound odd, but not only do I listen to my body I also talk to it. Research shows that our body responds to our thoughts. Just think about this for a moment. If you were to really imagine and think about slicing a lemon and squeezing it into a glass, your body would produce signals making your mouth salivate and pucker as if you were about to drink a glass of lemonade. So, I surmised if our body could produce chemicals to make internal changes happen, then I could also make changes to pain and fatigue. It certainly takes practice, but our bodies do respond to our thoughts so instead of ignoring the pain or feeling hate and disdain toward the part of the body affected by pain, try acknowledging and loving the area of pain. Ask your body what it needs then follow its direction. If you need to lie down and rest, do. If you need to use an ice or heat pack, magnesium oil, or anti-inflammatory, do so. You can have a better-quality day when you pay attention to your body.
- Practice Deep Breathing
Another way to hit the reset button on overwhelm brought on by discomfort is to practice deep breathing. It sounds simple, but it can help. Try 5 to 15 minutes of calm slow breathing. As you inhale and exhale, you can either focus on the up and down rising or your abdomen, or you can count. I like to count with each in and out cycle of breath. This may calm any anxiety brought on by pain or overwhelm.
- Go Outside
No matter where you live (unless you are in subarctic winter temperatures), going outside for a few minutes can be a way to rest your mind and shift your focus. A bit of nature, even in your back yard or a walk around the block, gives you the chance to breathe fresh air and increase your oxygen levels. If you get a few minutes in the sunlight it could support renewed feelings of well-being. If you are able to take a little walk, the movement may help increase circulation. All these things together can change your physiology and mindset, and be helpful in separating yourself from any stress you might have been feeling.
- Talk to Someone
One of the great things about the holidays is that it opens opportunities for talking with loved ones and friends. If you have the chance, sit and have a nice long talk with someone you trust that you know cares about you. If not in person, find some time to pick up the phone and reach out. When I speak with true friends, I find that it brings an uplifting energy. My mind feels renewed and happy, helping my body to feel relaxed.
- Feel Gratitude
Make a habit of gratitude. I choose to start my day with mental gratitude before getting out of bed. This I learned from the wonderful author of “You Can Heal Your Life”, Louise Hay. She used to say that in the morning she would thank her bed. Without thinking of anything in the future, of what I might have to do that day, right where I am as I first stir in the morning in bed gives me the opportunity to be thankful right then and there. I’m thankful for my soft pillow and cozy blankets, for my fuzzy socks, and the quiet stillness in the early morning light.
Make the habit simple. You do not need to make gratitude monumental, the small blessings in the moment are profound on their own. In an online article in On the Pulse, it was noted that a neuroscientist at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, said that feeling gratitude can activate several parts of the brain associated with reward and motivation, and the hypothalamus associated with eating and sleeping. Dr. Susan Ferguson said “when humans feel gratitude, the brain produces oxytocin…” This is the same hormone that is released after giving birth, and often dubbed the love hormone.
The feeling of love is definitely a healing emotion in the body. So, if activating these parts of the brain to produce positive feelings to support our body can be done with gratitude, then count me in! It’s worth being grateful for everything I can!
When you find yourself looking for the comfort of inner peace this holiday, remember to take 10 minutes to conquer your reality by releasing resistance to what is, taking a deep breath, walking outside, talking to a friend, and practicing gratitude. These small acts of self-care can renew your inner peace as often as you need it through the holidays.
Hearts & (gentle) Hugs,