Happy Sunday Educators!!! It is hard to believe how close we are to the end of another year but most importantly…holiday break!!! I know you have your countdown going and if you don’t let me be the one to tell you that end is near so…hang in there.
When I was a school counselor, I became keenly aware that for many students, holiday break wasn’t a pleasant experience they were looking forward to. Several students would begin to exhibit newfound, for some, and recurring, for others, challenging behaviors which spoke to deep needs, fears, concerns, heightened emotions that, at times, they were at a loss of how to cope with in the moment. It is easy to think that the holidays represent a wonderful reality for all as you drive through towns observing newly lit and decorated homes, cars headed home with trees strapped atop, commercials of gift giving which seem to be devoid of budgets and restraint, and never ending indulgent food from office parties to family gatherings that cause us to throw caution to the wind concerning our health.
The reality is that for many, and I may wager that for most of us, it all comes with a level of stress. Check out the graphic to the left. Whether it’s the process of traveling with children for the first or 100th time, catching up with family and friends, revisiting old conversations which are slightly or straight up uncomfortable, or just trying to ensure that everyone feels your love without breaking the bank, it all comes with a bit of baggage. As a result, despite the many pleasant aspects of the season, it contributes to an undercurrent of tension that impacts every aspect of our beings. And if you were already stressed before the holiday season, you are now experiencing a compound effect.
So…why the stress? Is it the misplaced meaning that we associate with absolutely everything and attached to deep seated needs? Possibly. Let’s dig a bit into the needs and see where we land.
Maybe stress is ever present as we attach inaccurate meaning to events, people, and things for the sake of supporting unmet needs we possess.
Let’s try a few examples on for size and see if any resonate. Someone continues to work 60-80 hours a week despite the health challenges it presents to avoid the feeling of worthlessness and disconnection which is felt at home. A parent who feels guilty about the limited time spent with the children, blows the budget to purchase every item on the Christmas dream list. Comfort foods are consistently eaten and exacerbate health conditions after a shattered relationship leaves one feeling lonely and unloved. The adult who feels unheard and voiceless at home refuses to give voice to colleagues in meetings or students in a classroom as this is the only space that he/she feels there is a level of control. I could go on and on. I challenge you to think of your own if none of these seem to fit for you. Where are your deepest needs driving the actions you take and how are those actions impacting you and those around you in the moment and in the aftermath?
The truth is...we are sensing, feeling, and needing beings and one way or another, our needs will be addressed. Unfortunately, often times we skirt around them without ever truly touching the origin of the challenge. It doesn’t matter if our attempts are constructive or destructive, each allows us to feel a bit of what we’re lacking and needing even if only temporarily. However, once life settles, we are left with the gnawing sense that the need that started it all still remains and the cycle begins again.
So…I have a suggestion. How about we choose to do something different this time? How about we name the need and deal with it head on? If you can, find a quiet space and take a few minutes to engage in this activity.
Ask yourself…what do I need right now to feel whole, at peace, supported, confident, loved, etc.? Sit with the question for a bit without jumping to an answer. What comes up for you? What do you need right now? Breathe into the question and see what you feel. There is no wrong answer.
Where did you land? Maybe the answer was, time for just you. Maybe what came up was opportunities to be creative and spread your wings without feeling stifled. Is it more sleep so you have the stamina to cover the many bases that you are responsible for? Is it consistency with a meal plan so your body can finally get what it needs o ongoing self-care appointments to balance the amount of time you spend caring for others? It may be that you need to know and feel like you are in control of your life and where it’s headed and that your opinion really matters. Finally, how about the simple yet powerful recognition that who you are right now is enough and who you’ll need to be tomorrow will be enough as well so there is no need to worry.
Whatever it is that you are acknowledging right now, I applaud you for naming it! I encourage you to take one more step and determine the one thing that you can do to authentically support the specific need that came up for you. Oftentimes we’re waiting for others to support us, love us, and create space for what we bring, when we are the ones with the power to do it for ourselves first. Be the person you hope would show up for you. Let’s grant ourselves the space to be big, bold, proud, and amazing. I am confident that when we do, every classroom, staff and district meeting, family gathering, relationship, will be better because we took the time to meet our most fundamental needs so that we can show up as the best version of ourselves. Our time is now.
As always…I’d love to hear how this landed for you. Feel free to comment below or even share what your next step might be.
In Solidarity and Love,