At times, it can seem like the holidays are something to be endured rather than enjoyed so if this is the case for you, here are some ideas for making it a little more bearable, perhaps even meaningful.
- Turn up the self-care. The preparations and socializing associated with holidays can be exhausting – especially for us introverts and misfits! Carve out opportunities to recharge – go for a run, be in nature, take a relaxing bath, meditate, listen to some favourite music etc.
- Connect with like-minded people. Whether it’s a phone call to an old friend or chatting with someone else who doesn’t always enjoy Chrismukkah, these are vital reminders that you are not alone. Like Seinfeld, you could create a Festivus for the rest of us.
- Look beyond the razzle dazzle. The holidays don’t have to be about spectacular consumerism and indulgence. There are many opportunities to donate your time and abilities to important causes this time of year.
- Explore your own symbols and myths. In our material-oriented culture, we tend to underestimate their relevance, yet this time of year is rife with symbols and myth – from mistletoe to miraculous oil. The festivals associated with winter solstice often celebrate the return of light following the longest night of the year. All are powerful, hopeful symbols, but the strongest symbols – for personal change and growth – are ones that come from within. Have you ever had a song that really spoke to you? A book you never tired of? Or a show you could watch again and again? These are clues to your symbols and myths.
We learn about symbols and myths in relation to culture, but why our own lives? They are clues to our motivations, strengths and weaknesses. They are complex and appeal to the unconscious mind – where deep change happens. And importantly, they can provide context and meaning to experiences that would otherwise feel chaotic, absurd or hopeless. The destruction associated with fire means something quite different to a phoenix, where new life is born out of the ashes.
So how do we learn what our symbols and myths are? Generally, we start by paying attention. What colours are you drawn to lately? How do they make you feel? What news stories do you always follow? What’s your favourite animal or tree? Some people keep journals: a dream journal, a daily journal. In art therapy, mandalas (just about anything drawn in the shape of a circle) are sometimes considered a symbol of the self so are great for noticing significant symbols. In this way, doodling, collaging, Guided Imagery & Music are also excellent roads into exploring your own language of symbols and myths. When you have a grasp of your own symbols, it is much easier to find meaning in the rituals and myths associated with this sometimes maddening time of year.