Give the Gift of Connection

This time of year brings about a mixed bag of emotions for me and I can get boggled down with feeling overwhelmed. Whenever I feel this way, I know I need to use my toolbox to process my emotions. Two of my favourite tools are; adding humour, and carving out time for reflection and connection.

I found some comedy relief when I heard a classic Christmas song from my teens years by The New Kids on the Block; you might remember it “Have a Funky Funky Christmas”. NKOTB suggest that we move beyond the same old, same old, stress during the holidays and funk it up. I very much like the idea of that!

I’ve also been doing some reflection to explore the root causes of my mixed feelings, which include; feeling awe struck with gratitude, and feeling slammed with depression. It seems to be a pattern many people experience during the fall and early winter seasons. Can you relate?

Something I’ve noticed recently is that I become grateful when I see big white snow flakes creating a winter wonderland. I feel great joy with the holiday excitement all around. I love the lights and colours… and how people become so generous and thoughtful towards others.

But, I also feel lonely and grumpy… I reminisce about the people who’ve come and gone from my life, I reflect on what went wrong in the past year… I worry about what others will think of my gifts – or lack thereof. This reminiscing can bring on emotions like despair, depression, and depletion which can lead to hopelessness.

Since I’ve determined that creating a sense of connection is helpful in processing my emotions, I’ve been reminding myself to connect with my feelings of overwhelm rather than repress them. To do this, I’m practicing mindful breathing because paying attention to my breath anchors my mind in the present moment, therefore, I stop the reminiscing cycle.

Here are some basic steps to a mindful breathing practice:

1. Sit or lie in a comfortable position
2. Bring awareness to how your body feels
3. Bring awareness to the natural flow of your breath
4. Notice the pathway of your breath as it moves in the chest, lower rib cage, and abdomen
5. Allow your breath to move in its own natural rhythm
6. Continue to observe your breath for 3 – 5 minutes

I describe a 3 Part Breath practice in my Limitless Parenting workbook and I have a recording available on YouTube, click here to check it out.

I often hear people express that their best holiday memories are not derived from a store-bought gift; the best memories stem from feeling connected with loved ones. So, if you want to give the best present to your family and friends, remember that you already have it! Use your breath to be present and enjoy the heartfelt connections you create as you wind down 2017.

Wishing you a magical holiday season,

Amber McAuley