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  • Peg Hunt

Holiday Presence (hohoho)





I’ve been thinking about The Holidays—both the opportunities (a time to reflect and be thankful, to gather with friends and family, and have fun!) and the pressures (was my year “good enough”, am I grateful enough, did I disappoint someone, how will I navigate family dynamics). Given the reality that some variation of both themes is at play for everyone, I thought we could return to a reoccurring topic and share some ideas about self-care during the holidays.


Many of us yearn and strive to “be present” which is about recognizing and acknowledging what we are experiencing in real time (not thinking about what we need to do next or worrying about something from the past). This is where self-care starts: consciously identifying how we are actually feeling in the moment and then making a conscious choice about whether we need to do something about the feeling and what we can do to care for ourselves in the moment.


A part of this is getting in touch with the things that make us happy. Anytime is a great time to count one’s blessings, even on the worst days, we have some (e.g. I have comfy pajamas, my cat loves me, etc.). Research demonstrates that gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. The holidays invite us to pay attention to what we are grateful for – and for some, this feels like pressure to be inauthentic. I highly recommend paying attention to what you are honestly grateful for.


On any given day, hour or minute, experiencing gratitude is not inconsistent with also experiencing loss, anger, grief, fear, etc. What if we take time to acknowledge and feel into these emotions (where do I feel it in my body? What is it about? What, if anything, do I want to do with/about this feeling?). Acknowledging all that we feel is an act of self-acceptance and this is the beginning of self-care. One of my big learnings this year was that I didn’t need to block feelings out that I didn’t want to feel, but that I could acknowledge the feeling and “take it with me” as it was—I didn’t need to change it or deny it—and doing so made my experience more authentic and took away the shame and judgement.


Self-care during the holidays really hinges on being present (i.e. mindful of) how you are feeling, which in turn let’s you consciously decide how best to take care of yourself, seize the opportunities that bring you joy and navigate the pressures. Paradoxically, when we allow ourselves to feel anger, jealousy, disappointment (all the things we are taught to not feel) we may make room for more authentic experiences of joy or excitement because we are giving ourselves permission to feel what we actually feel instead of feeling only what we are supposed to feel.


Because it is the last blog of the year, I want to share some of the things I am (authentically!) grateful for: I am grateful for the readers of our blog and for those who have shared it with others, and for those who have reached out with comments! I am grateful for those who have entrusted me to coach with them, they are a source of both learning and inspiration. I am also grateful for those who have referred me to other potential clients. Finally, I am grateful for the opportunity to collaborate on the blog—it has been a wonderful journey! As always, contact me if you have any questions or comments at info@peghuntcoaching.com.


Happy Holidays! See you in 2023!


© Peg Hunt, MS & Anne Garing, PhD

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