The holiday season can be a very challenging time of the year for many individuals who struggle with difficult family dynamics, health issues and stress, but it's particularly challenging for those who tend to struggle around food and feelings, alcohol and substance abuse as well as other addictions (i.e. shopping!). This holiday season stop and be curious about your feelings. This means that you will intentionally make time to check in with yourself. You do this when you settle yourself into a comfortable position and take a few deep breaths, bring your awareness to your breath and the sensations in your body. Be curious about your experience. Are you feeling excited, upset, impatient, wary, bored, and/or anxious? What physical sensations lead you to this conclusion? Make sure you notice all your physical sensations and feelings without judging them, stay with them and dig deeper. What else are you feeling? Remember, you may be feeling more than one thing.
How is this practice going to help you? By bringing more awareness to your thoughts, feelings and the sensations in your body, you will be more connected with yourself and able to work through the feelings instead of acting them out through your behavior. Identifying emotions takes awareness and practice and the only way to become more skilled at recognizing emotions is through practicing and paying close attention to them. The first step is to tune into your physical sensations and wonder why you’re having them, scan your body and take some time to be with those sensations, noticing them and naming them. It’s important to distinguish pain, cues for hunger and urges to use the bathroom from feelings. Some body sensations can be triggered by the way you’re feeling. Notice the difference. Once you identify the feelings you can explore the causes and identify what’s triggering those emotions. You can journal about it, take some time to reflect, talk to a friend or your therapist. You can practice checking in when you just woke up before you get out of bed, before meals, and before you go to bed. Keeping a daily “check in practice” will make a difference in the way you connect to your emotions and the way you deal with them. This holiday season give yourself the gift of time!