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Dr. Adrianne Ahern's Blog

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When Santa Doesnt Get a Bailout

Sunday, December 21, 2008
Ack! The holidays are upon us! Probably like you, I’ve had so many projects in the fire that I’ve barely noticed the passing of time. I finished writing my second book, Back in Charge!, and shipped it off to my publisher – yahoo! — and we’ve finalized the editing on Snap Out of it NOW! workshop due to air nationally on public television in March. Our local Reno station KNPB-TV will air a “first look” of our pledge event on January 22 at 7:30 pm. If you live in Reno, be sure to watch on Channel 5! Presently, I’m working on the CD of guided exercises that will accompany the new book, plus a workbook for the DVD of the workshop. In the midst of that, I’m trying to get the darn Christmas tree to stand up straight, get presents for nieces and nephews, plan holiday get-togethers with family, send cards — Wait! Have the holidays become just another job?

Like many of you, I often have to step back at this time of year and take a deep breath. It’s easy to get caught up in someone else’s idea of holiday cheer. And for many of us, this particular year is particularly unsettling. The difficulties in the economy and the fears surrounding it have affected all of us — if not directly then indirectly as we sympathize with so many who have lost jobs, homes and hope. So it may take a little effort to reclaim the good feelings this season can offer.

The holidays are steeped in traditions and memories, expectations and desires. They bring out the best in us, our generosity, our wonder, our delight in one another. Over the years, we unconsciously connect these warm holiday feelings to certain activities and traditions. And if the activities disappear, the feelings seem to go with them.

This season by necessity, a lot of us are reassessing our holiday traditions. The bountiful gift giving or expensive trips to bring family together are just not possible for many of us this year. We can’t afford the lavish parties or elegant holiday clothes of past years, or simply feel that they are inappropriate. Our whole country seems to be wondering if the consumerism we’ve all bought into over the past decades – especially during the holidays – was such a good idea after all.

So if we can’t do the holiday traditions we’re used to, how do we get that holiday glow back? It’s not just about finding new activities to fill the gap, we’re really seeking those warm feelings behind them. Here are a couple of suggestions:

1) Get to the heart of it. Sit down by yourself or with your family and talk about the feelings you experienced in your holiday activities. Was the joy of shopping for gifts really based on spending time thinking about them and wanting good things for them? Was the big family gathering special because you all reconnected and shared special memories? When you’ve figured out what made that tradition meaningful, see if you can come up with a new tradition that would do the same.

2) Rewire (not just your Christmas lights!) When you feel overwhelmed by what isn’t, take a moment to connect with what is. For instance, you’re stressing with “I don’t have enough money for great gifts,” pause, take a deep breath and allow yourself to feel the feeling. Exhale and let the feeling release, Keep breathing until you feel more relaxed and at ease. Next, remind yourself of what you have: good health, good friends, loving relationships, hope for the future. Breathe deeply and slowly as you let a feeling of appreciation settle in. Even a few moments of this exercise will get your brain (and feelings and physiology) moving in a new, positive direction.

My wish for you is that you find new traditions that are meaningful and that the holiday season and year ahead brings you joy, peace, and fulfillment.
Wishing you focus, fitness, & flexibility in body and mind.

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