Is Happy New Year Happy for You?

Navigating Post Holiday Blues with
Stop Breathe Believe to a More Intentional Way of Being — Questions for Reflection

What are you feeling today?  As we are driving home from our holiday vacation with our family, I am contemplating getting back to the “real world” tomorrow.  What feelings do the end of the holiday season stir up for you?

In looking at our new year through a holistic perspective, what do things look like for you emotionally, relationally, spiritually, financially, physically, intellectually, organizationally?

Emotionally there can be such a wide range of feelings that are stirred up during the holidays.  Maybe you are grateful for a time of deep connection with family and friends, or maybe you are drained from being a quiet person in a rowdy, loud, game-playing, crazy-fun kind of family, or maybe you live alone and are dreading going back to a quiet home and struggling with a sense of impending loneliness, or maybe you are sad that everyone seemed pre-occupied with their own world and didn’t give family time priority, or maybe you’ve focused on the holiday preparation and orchestration so much that you are relieved it’s all over and looking forward to the quiet of the winter season, or maybe you’re sad that your family didn’t get together this year.  Regardless of where you are emotionally today, it is healthy to be aware of what you are feeling and give some time and attention to those emotions.  The beauty of being mindful to our feelings is a depth of understanding that can guide us into the new year of living life abundantly.  Giving attention to both the highs and the lows of the season is a gift that can last all year long.  Stop.  Breathe.  Believe that whatever you are feeling, your feelings are important and valid. 

Relationally we may be grateful for deep, satisfying, healthy relationships—or we may be starving for some connection with others.  Often the holidays are a time that magnifies our realization of the emptiness or disappointment within various relational dynamics.   Possibly we are made aware of the consequences of our busy lifestyle that has drained some quality from our friendships—one leaky, busy day at a time as we review the year and look forward to a new year.  How do we want to choose to be intentional with our friendships and relationships in this new year?  Stop.  Breathe.  Believe in the value and “worth the struggle” of connection with others.

Spiritually we may be peace-filled with times of significant joyful worship and time with God through the holiday season…or we may be recognizing there is something missing.  What is all of this about Christmas and Hanukkah being a spiritual holiday when it seems so commercialized?  Were we able to allow time with God or did the “business of Christmas” or the “busyness of Christmas” take over?  What is our intention for the life of our spirit in the new days, weeks, months, and year?  I ask that question because we can become big dreamers in looking ahead with our dreams and desires…but what will we do today?  How can I honor the spiritual interior landscape within me this next year? Stop.  Breathe.  Believe in the beauty of the mystery of spiritual depth within each of us.

Financially we may be startled into reality as we reluctantly open the credit card bill and see the effects of great advertising and the pressure to buy the perfect gift. Maybe we’re wishing we’d stuck with last year’s goal of creating a holiday budget before we went shopping, and experiencing the regret of getting caught in the moment of buying and buying and buying.  At what point do we slow down?  When is enough?  Often clients in my counseling office share frustration with the financial costs of the Norman Rockwell portrait of the perfect holiday gift giving and entertaining expenses.  How can I as an individual or we as a couple reflect and become more intentional in how to keep our values aligned with our actions during this frantic financial frenzy?  The principle of small steps to a secure financial portfolio is an integral part of any successful financial plan.  Planning may be the key, as it is often said, “We do not plan to fail, we simply fail to plan.”  Financial health takes time, energy, planning and intention.  Stop.  Breathe.  Believe in small steps to get us where we want to be…and sometimes, small steps in getting us out of where we do not want to be.

Physically we may be stuffed!  Stuffed full of cookies, wonderful home cooking, catered office party fare, fast food grabbed on the road. And maybe this stuffed feeling is exacerbated by living in a part of the country where the season of the holidays is also the season of extreme cold, which interrupts your normal plans of being active outdoors.  This is the time when many of us want to do something different in the new year regarding our physical fitness. New year, new resolutions – there is no secret this is the time of year of full exercise classes and internet searches for the latest trend in diets and cleanses to get us “back on track”.   What would be the “fit bit” to get you started off to a healthier week, month or year?  I love the concept of the fit bit.  The consistency of a “bit” of “fit” is the key to healthy living.  Movement is important.  How can we be encouraged to increase our movement?  Stop.  Breathe.  Believe in the power of a healthy start—we can always begin again.  One of my favorite new beginning statements is, “From this day forward I will….”

Intellectually, where do we want to be this time next year?  What do we want to learn more about?  How can we stimulate our brain in a new way?  I am excited to be going to a week-long workshop this month to delve into a topic that holds great curiosity for me.  Could it be that we could take small steps to challenge ourselves intellectually?  What would that look like for you?  Learning a new method of cooking?  Completing a Sudoku puzzle regularly?  Taking a course online or at a community college?  Exploring the library for a book in an area we know nothing about?  The opportunities are endless—but how do we get there?  Again, small steps in accomplishing a goal are the answer.  Goals that are realistic and measurable are most likely to be accomplished. How can I challenge and fill my mind with the adventure of learning?  Stop.  Breathe.  Believe that our minds are capable of expanding.

Organizationally our lives can easily slip into a conundrum— one stack at a time, one drawer at a time, one closet at a time. 

How is it that we organize our drawers, our closets, our desk, our computer, our time? The name “January” is derived from Janus, the god of gates and doorways, the god of beginnings and transitions, depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions, one forward and one back. As you step through the gateway into this fresh and shiny new year, keep a note of what makes you happy, and endeavor to seek out more of it in the months ahead.   Stop.  Breathe.  Believe in small steps—small steps of choosing how we will utilize our time and resources.

As we reflect on our patterns and ways of the last year and look ahead and contemplate the year to come, it can feel overwhelming to want to make multiple changes and create a more authentic lifestyle versus the hustle for worthiness that we can so easily get caught in. I come back to the small step principle.  Choose an area you would like to make changes in and be intentional in taking those small steps, one at a time, to reach your goal.

One practice that can be helpful in looking at designing your year to be the year you desire is Stop Breathe Believe, a simple process I created to facilitate the journey into mindful, wholehearted living. 

We all long to live wholeheartedly—with authenticity and joy, in a way that honors our true selves and brings our gifts into being.  But often, unhealthy thinking can get in the way.  Stop Breathe Believe helps us stop the stream of thoughts flowing through our minds and become aware of one thought that needs replacing, breathe our way to a state of calm openness, and then believe a compassionate truth statement.

You are invited to reflect on how you too can revolutionize your reactions and responses in relationship to yourself and to others. One step, one breath, one intention at a time.

Stop Breathe Believe can help you become healthier in your thinking, more intentional in your thoughts and behaviors, more aware of your feelings, and thus more mindful of the beauty of the present moment.  For 2015, let’s start becoming the wholehearted, joyful people we’re meant to be.