The end of the year can be a challenging time for many people. Anytime you mix family, alcohol and expectations you’re bound to have some disappointment.
Chances are you’re reading this because you want some inspiration and you have an intention to move through the holiday season in a different way this year. A better way for you.
Whether you’re alone and sad this year or over-scheduled and packed to the rafters, below are some practical tips and tools to help you sort out what’s really important to you this year.
Know your values
When making decisions, large or small, it’s helpful to start with your values. For example, if you value connection and vulnerability, maybe you choose the intimate dinner for four instead of the jam packed party for fifty. If you value time with family, perhaps you travel to see them over the holidays instead of taking a beach vacation alone.
When you start with your personal values, there is no right or wrong. You’re making decisions based on what is important to you. More crucial than that, you’re stopping to think about what actually is important to you. Sure, you may disappoint some people along the way, but at the end of the day, you have to be content with the decisions you make.
What are you grateful for? There is a ton of power in the simple act of thinking about what you’re grateful for. Gratitude is a type of mindfulness, and one of the main cornerstones of mindfulness is what we practice grows stronger. If you practice thinking about all the things that stress you out, those worries will grow stronger. If you practice thinking about the things that you’re grateful for, your empathy, patience and compassion will grow stronger.
This isn’t magic, its brain science. Neurologically your brain will change over time. The practice of mindfulness and gratitude is something that you can keep going well into the new year and beyond.
Be yourself. We’ve all heard that platitude before but it took me years of self examination and some hardship to really take those words to heart. Especially for those of us in the LGBTQ community, we’ve learned how to hide parts of ourselves from the world. When you get good at hiding, it can be hard to know who you really are at your core.
This holiday season and beyond, be yourself. If you don’t want to go ice skating with friends, don’t do it. If you are anxious in social situations, don’t over drink to fit in. Know your limits and leave when you’ve had enough. You’re important and your wants, needs and limits should be respected. Especially by you!
It’s been a hard year. There’s been a lot happening in the world and I’m sure you’ve had some difficulties personally over the last twelve months. If you’re depressed, anxious or scared about the future it can be hard to have hope.
What are you looking forward to in the New Year? Are there any dreams or fantasies you have about what you’d like to accomplish or work towards for yourself next year? Focus on the here and now, but if you’re not happy with where you are, put a goal post a few months out. Make a clear, simple and achievable goal for yourself. That will give you something to plan and aim for as you enter the next year.
It is crucial that you take care of yourself all year, but especially over the holidays. Here are some gentle self-care reminders for this holiday season.
Take some time for yourself. While there can be a pressure to spend every moment together during the holiday season, carve out some time for yourself. Take a walk. Go for a run. Read a book. One of worst things that you can do is ignore your own feelings and take one for the team. You have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help someone else.
Try not to drink too much. This is easier said than done for some of us. However, the mix of over indulging in alcohol and tense family dynamics can be explosive. Use a harm reduction technique like counting your drinks to make sure you don’t go over the edge.
Give back to others. Volunteering can be self-care and it has the added bonus of helping others along the way. A 2013 study released by UnitedHealth Group and the Optum Institute found that up to 76% of people who volunteered to help others reported better physical and mental health as a result.
Where to volunteer in San Francisco
Below are just a few of the many options for places to give back your time in San Francisco.
A wonderful resource in San Francisco that has a number of volunteer opportunities available. Their mission “is to create a radically inclusive, just and loving community mobilized to alleviate suffering and break the cycles of poverty and marginalization.” You can easily sign up to help serve a meal or assist those in need in other ways.
JFCS is a community organization that offers assistance to the community on a variety of fronts. There are a number of volunteer opportunities that exist ranging from office help to visiting with senior citizens in need.
Is an organization that provides essential services to San Franciscans living in poverty. They have many different opportunities for volunteering including serving trays to guests in the Dining Room, sorting clothing donations, teaching classes in the Tech Lab, and administrative assistance to name a few.