Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward Myself

By Natalie Briscoe

One of the important tasks we take on as Unitarian Universalists who hold Love as our core value is the study of how love moves among us, transforms us, and is incarnated by us. During the holidays, we often turn our focus to the ways in which Love is present as we connect with others, be it family, friends, our church community, or other communities we are a part of. We set aside special time to visit loved ones. We prepare special meals. We attend or hold gatherings in our homes, which involves various levels of preparation. We give gifts. And if we are parents, well, that involves hours and days and weeks of preparation to create a season of magic and memories.

All of this connection is simultaneously fulfilling and draining. In our Asian/ Pacific Islander home, my family’s holiday season runs from the Moon Festival in mid-September, through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and concludes with Lunar New Year in February. Each of the six months brings large family gatherings, carnivals, meals, and hours upon hours of making meaning and magic for the younger generations in our lives.

Not that I don’t love every minute of being with my family and my chosen family, but it can feel hectic. There is barely any time to sit down, much less rest.

It is really critical during this time to find moments to connect with ourselves in the midst of connecting with others. An anonymous meme asks the important question, “if i asked you to name all the things that you love, how long would it take for you to name yourself?” We have to make loving and connecting with ourselves a priority during these busy holiday months if we are to greet the new year with a sense of centered renewal.

These are the tactics I use to connect with myself during this busy season.

  1. I take time each day to feel my feelings. When I am on the go-go-go, I often push my own feelings aside in order to check items off of my never-ending to-do list. This leads to anger, resentment, and fatigue if I ask myself to do this for too long. I connect with myself by spending time each evening to reflect on my day and simply write down all of the feelings I felt, from exasperation to anxiety to excitement to contentment. Then, I take the time to feel each one inside my body. Anxiety lives in my stomach; excitement lives in my chest. Contentment lives in my shoulders; happiness lives in my feet. I allow each feeling to run its course through my physical being, and then I create movement with my body through stretching or walking to release the energy of these emotions. In this way, they are fully processed and don’t build up into unexpected outbursts.
  2. I take a stimulus break. All day I am inundated with noise: my screens, my family, the street outside, the sounds of a store or a restaurant, even music or podcasts that I voluntarily listen to all day. My mind and body also need quiet and rest each day. In this time, I can intentionally turn my attention toward my own thoughts. I can listen to myself and deeply connect with my own needs, which assures that I do not brush my needs aside in order to serve others.
  3. I jog my creativity. For me, connecting with myself means tapping into my sense of playfulness and my artistic nature. I draw, paint, write, or collage as a way to spend time with myself that is purely for pleasure and enjoyment. It’s important to have fun with yourself as well!

I wish each of you finds ways to connect with and love yourself during these busy holiday months. Do you have some methods that you already use? Share them with us! Perhaps we can connect with each other through sharing the ways we connect with ourselves!