Mental Health

Enjoying the Holidays By Cultivating Love

Managing Anxiety During the Holidays | Libero Magazine 13
For many of us, the holidays are times loaded with a complicated mess of feelings. Getting together with family or pals we haven’t seen in a while can be exciting and taxing all at once.

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“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection.” — Brene’ Brown

For many of us, the holidays are times loaded with a complicated mess of feelings.

Getting together with family or pals we haven’t seen in a while can be exciting and taxing all at once.

When you see images of the holiday season, you see shiny, happy people, and everything covered in shimmer, coated in sugar. In a word: perfection.

It can be easy for us to put that pressure on ourselves — the pressure to appear perfect and sweep our daily struggles and mess under the holiday rug.


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After all, we fear being the person to botch the perfect image of the holidays. But is that really what our time with friends and family is about? Do we all come together just to project this false image of ourselves out to those closest to us?

I think we can easily agree that is not why we are all drawn together during the holidays.

Along with many other reasons, what pulls us to spend time with others this season is love.

Managing Anxiety During the Holidays | Libero Magazine

And when love is present, it begs for truth.

So maybe you are in the initial stages of recovery, or heck, maybe you haven’t brought a single person into what you are really dealing with. Maybe you cannot even imagine allowing anyone else to see that part of your life — your soft underbelly, your messy side.

Maybe you have alluded to some “rough times” happening lately over the phone, but haven’t gone into details. Maybe you have been kicking butt on your recovery journey, but you haven’t thought to celebrate with others back home.

Whatever the case, I want to encourage you to look and see where love in your life is begging for truth, and then be brave and open yourself to that. The alternative of continuing to hide or withhold parts of ourselves doesn’t help us feel good about ourselves, and proves to be more destructive in the end instead of protective, as much as we may have hoped it would be.

If you have kept your struggles and recovery process quiet, challenge yourself to include someone this holiday season in your story you trust.

Is there someone you will come across already on your team, pompoms in hand? Why not include them in part of your recovery plan? Ask your parent to join you in that yoga class, or an old friend to go on one of your daily walks. When you and your sibling are sipping coffee, share an authentic answer to the “how are you?” question.

Sure, you might already be including others in your recovery activities, but I wonder how it might become more intimate and joyful to include your loved ones in those practices. Sometimes, it can feel easier to neglect filling in those we have known the longest because of distance,  habitual ways of communicating with them, or simply out of fear. But why not take the opportunity now during this meaningful time?

By sharing our vulnerable and powerful selves during the holidays with friends and family, we are cultivating love.

Though it might not feel like it at first, we are opening the road between us and that person we are vulnerable with, and are allowing space for those around us to also be freely and fully themselves.

When we offer others to see our struggles along with our strengths and joys, we honor that relationship and person in our lives. Being honest and cultivating love will allow us to more deeply enjoy the holidays,, because to experience meaningful times with others who truly know us, and continue to love us, is to experience authentic joy.

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Victoria has her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and English Literature and is working on her Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She grew up in Florida and now lives in the Washington DC area.

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