After New Year's people often have their own way of recovering from their holiday hangovers but for many of us there can also be a need for an emotional recovery. Our ultimate goal is to be able to soothe ourselves in the moment no matter where we are or who we are with but this can be challenging around the holidays. Many people practice self care as individuals but did not grow up in families where it is common practice and this can make spending time with family feel very uncomfortable.
I was in New York over Christmas visiting aunts, uncles and grandparents. My family expressed disapproval of me being a 26-year-old woman who lives on her own, they expressed disapproval for me being an entrepreneur and lectured me about why I should be better at cooking and cleaning. Once they found out I have a cleaning person and eat out regularly, one of my great aunts even went as far as to bring me up to her house and show me how neat everything was, hoping that I would be inspired to spend more time cleaning. Everyone seemed to take pride in suffering. The women lectured me about how they worked 12 to 14 hours a day when they were my age and then would stay up at night to cook and clean. The men lectured me about how I should disregard my happiness and spend more time with family so as not to offend them. I felt obligated to do what I was told, a pattern left over from childhood. And a common practice in my family -- the elders providing room and board while expecting you to do what they say in return. While I had my yoga and meditation practice, I also had some Hennessy to get me through Christmas Day -- a day that began with yelling and screaming about the laziness of one of my relatives who is on a type of medication that makes them drowsy. I was asked to postpone my plane ticket and stay longer in what felt like torture. I said I had to get back to Toronto, which offended every person I didn't have time to stay with.
Once I returned home, I felt confused and insecure. It took a number of days for me to feel centered again. But this is okay. I knew if I continued connecting to my body and breath, the discomfort would soon pass. The worst part was I told a friend about my Christmas and they said their family wasn't like that at all. I am glad they had a great Christmas, but it made me feel a little worse about my own.
Sometimes we can be hard on ourselves when we feel ourselves experience spiritual growth and then feel easily affected by something like our family. But it is these moments that we must be most gentle with ourselves. It is challenging for many people to feel free around their families since there are so many deeply entrenched habits and previous conditioning that is associated with growing up. Below are some little things we can do after moving through challenging social situations.
1) Take a shower or bath. Water can wash away negative energy and the warmth can soothe our muscles of tension. If we focus on the sensation of the water on the skin, this can make us more present and help us let go of previous moments.
2) Drink plenty of water. We often eat more sugar and drink more alcohol around the holidays. Water helps keep everything flowing instead of holding onto toxins internally -- which can also make us feel uncomfortable and easily irritated.
3) Meditate. Take time for yourself and be still. If it is hard to find space to be alone, take as much time as you can in the bathroom. Sometimes we need time to process certain encounters, conversations and experiences. Allowing ourselves to take this time helps us feel more powerful and prevents an emotion overload.
4) Stretch, go for a walk, move the body. It can help to just go outside and look up at the sky. The sky reminds us that the world is expansive and we are not trapped in any circumstance or moment. Spending time with trees and animals can also feel soothing.
5) Go for a massage if you can. If this is not a realistic investment financially, practice self massage with your favorite oil or lotion. To reach your back you can place a tennis ball in a long sock and roll around on a wall.
6) Practice positive self talk. Be gentle. Let yourself know that you don't have to have everything figured out this minute. Encountering challenging social situations show us the ways in which we can grow and that growth is something we can look forward to.
Remember to practice self love. You know what you want for yourself, your life and your new year. Not everyone will approve or understand. But what matters most is that you speak your truth and follow your bliss. As for your New Year's hangovers -- hopefully they have already passed -- but if not, drink plenty of water and get lots of sleep. Let yourself rest. Let yourself ease into 2015.
-A Little Love From Mala-