What do you feel connected to? Connection can be healing and protective. Last month, I wrote about developing your psychological insulation to promote wellness and recover from illness. Connection is one important key to developing your insulation.
The holiday season is a wonderful time to use the mind-body-spirit strategy of connection as a positive means of creating wellness. Sometimes the connection will be with family as you gather to celebrate, sometimes the connection will be with yourself noticing how you are feeling, what you are thinking and what you need and sometimes the connection will be with other-animals, nature, your senses.
This month’s health and healing strategy involves identifying positive connections in your life and replace or recognize those that might be negative connections. The lights, scents and sounds of the season are all around. Notice those that fill you with positive energy and move away from those that bring negative. Negativity can be like looking at life through a funnel. It can cause you to focus in on narrow areas that increase stress, seem to create blockages from what will help you feel better. This negative viewpoint can leave you feeling distressed and strained and often need to soothe quickly and can lead to destructive or impulsive decisions. Motivation to connect to things, people, activities, beings that bring out positive feelings in you consistently might require a bit of looking around and thoughtful reflection. This will be time well spent for a connected holiday season.
Do you feel stressed by relatives arriving, shopping lists, a barrage of ads on tv, the hustle and bustle of the season, a boss trying to get a heavy workload done before a holiday break? Take a moment away. Notice your reaction to the situation. Connecting with others can have its benefits and struggles. We all have our quirks and irritations. If friends or family are a good connection for you, stop and notice them. If there are stressors there, there are other healthy ways to use connection as a wellness strategy.
Connect with yourself -what do I need right now. Step away and sit with a cup of tea with an aromatic cinnamon stick or if you don’t like tea, just hot water with the cinnamon for the feeling of warmth and the soothing scent (Don’t like cinnamon find a scent you do- a soothing lemon slice, cocoa, vanilla). Steal away from the chaos and stress and find a quiet place for a moment. Sit still. Hold your warm cup in your hands and notice the connection to the warmth. Notice the wonderful aroma. Breathe deeply in and out. Allow your body to connect to the sensation of the smells and touches. Worried you won’t have time to heat up the cup – on your next trip to the grocery store or drug store buy an inexpensive chapstick with a scent you love- vanilla, mint, cookies and cream – try this short mindful self-compassion meditation:
Close your eyes. Take in a deep breath and notice the smell of your soothing lip balm. Place your right hand over your heart and put your left hand on top of your right. Breathe in deeply noticing the rising and falling of your chest and the sensation of your own heart beat. Say to yourself: May I be healthy, may I be happy, may I be safe, may I find peace and joy in my connections. As you take in deep breaths picture a connection -friend, family, pet, scenery you enjoy. Say May This connection be healthy, may This connection be happy, may This connection be safe, may This connection be filled with peace and joy. Finally, because compassion grows as we share it with others say to yourself: May all beings be healthy, may all beings be happy, may all beings be safe, may all beings find peace and joy in their connections.
Enjoy your connections this holiday season.
Sheri Damon is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with three decades of experience using contemplative, holistic practices providing individual, group and family therapy, training, speaking engagements, workshops, retreats, consultation and life effectiveness and wellness planning. Sheri founded FLIHH (Foundation for Learning & Inspiring Health & Healing), a unique healing practice located in Marshfield, MA with a satellite office in Mashpee, MA. The concept for FLIHH reinforces the importance of mind-body-spirit connection in treating eating disorders, as well as technology addiction, anxiety, depression, and life stress. Sheri applies a combination of strength-based strategies like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), animal assisted techniques, mindfulness and meditation to employ her COPER model (Connection, Optimism, Play, Empowerment, Resilience) leading to effective programs for all ages. “Butterflihh Farm” allows clients to enjoy the soothing effects of the connection with nature and animals in a serene environment that promotes healing and resiliency.
Sheri is a Board Member of the South Shore Coalition of Independent Therapists as well as one of the founding Board Members of the Cape and Islands Family Support Network and a MA certified School Adjustment Counselor. Sheri is an Adjunct Professor and DESE Coordinator at Cambridge College School of Psychology & Counseling. Sheri has received diverse training from Clark University, Northeastern University and a range of mental health settings and mindfulness teachers as well as training in Comprehensive Alternative Medicine to inform her practice.