It’s that time of year again, the smell of pumpkin spice in the air, reaching out to loved ones to let them know you care, and the giving and receiving of each other’s love. The yuletide season brings much excitement and stirs feelings of togetherness, love, and safety to many, however, for someone struggling with the very physical challenges of MS, this time of year can be extremely disheartening.
I know this all too well as I have spent the last few Christmas’ and New Year holidays alone much of the time, aside from sharing a few dinners or breakfasts with my daughter and her partner. During this time, I have found myself traveling on a very thrilling roller coaster ride of my emotions. If I follow my thoughts, I can see a very distinct downward spiral into despair-dom. If I let my emotions jump on that train also, then I’m in trouble! But if I catch my thoughts early enough in the day or before they’ve had enough momentum to get me going in that downward direction, then I can choose how I want to view this time I have alone. There are hundreds of things that I can be doing to create a loving, healing, safe environment rather than feeling sorry for myself, or being in a state of depression.
I have to say this type of mental toughness is not easy to come by but the benefits of taking my own power back and making my own choices for how I think, and feel has made all the difference.
I have implemented small things in my life that have also helped me make huge strides in this direction, including gratitude and joy. First of all, I think that gratitude brings on joy and joy brings on more gratitude so gratitude and joy are almost like a circle with no beginning and no end. They are both high vibrational words and will carry you out of your funk quickly.
So, here’s how I do it… If I start thinking about something that makes me feel sad or depressed or it’s the beginning of that downward spiral, at first, I choose to ‘go general’. By ‘going general’, I mean I choose general topics to focus on. Like, the beautiful clouds in the bright blue sky outside, how the sun feels warm on my skin, how I love the cool feeling of my breath entering my nostrils and How it feels warm when I breathe out fully. Anything that will bring me into this present moment. The present moment is the only place we have any power over. Think about it. You can’t breathe in the past and you can’t breathe into the future. All you have is this one breath right now! Our lives are really just a series of these present moments all stacked together.
So when I feel like I’m descending into that downward spiral, I bring myself back into the present moment, and make a choice to be grateful. There is always something we can find to be grateful for in our lives! By recognizing the downward trend then practicing choosing things to be grateful for, I am now able to pull myself out of my funk most times. It has taken me some time to get to this point so don’t get discouraged, just keep practicing.
I can tell you it is well worth it, because I notice when I’m headed towards a funk, I don’t feel well in my body, I experience a tremendous amount of fatigue, pain, and even severe spasm sessions! However, when I am able to pull myself out of this funk, focusing on things I’m grateful for or that I find joy in, my body follows suit and feels better almost instantly.
Another tool I use is … once I bring myself into the present moment I ask myself what can I do right now to find joy in this moment? It might be to brush my cat and love on him, it might be to pull out my watercolors and begin a new painting, or listen to some music or journal. This will be different for each one of us, so you need to find out what brings a smile to your face and create time and space in your day for these joyful activities.
Remember, this is about feeling and bringing that feeling tone into your body. What things can you do to experience that joyful feeling in your body? The next thing I do is work on scheduling things that bring this joy into my busy life. For instance, when I’m making my coffee in the morning I look out the back window and I see the morning glories opening at to greet the day! Or being mindful about enjoying the smell and the taste of the food that I’m eating for breakfast. Any one of us can do anything for two minutes or five minutes… so, start with this and work into your routine a few things that bring you joy throughout your day.
I have found watercolor painting, finding new yummy recipes, bird and flora watching are some of the things that bring me joy. One of the things that I found that bring me joy is also creating beautiful bouquets from cut flowers. Every week I include in my grocery budget 5 to $15 to buy a fresh cut bouquet of flowers. I enjoy bringing them home, filling a vase full of water, laying out each one of the varied stems, gently trimming the ends, and creating and organic work of art, and bringing a bit of nature indoors. I think it brings me so much joy to be creative with the natural beauty that I’ve been given and to enjoy the beautiful life offered by these blooms!
For the Christmas season this year, I splurged and spent $20 on six stems of Christmas lilies! These are probably the easiest flowers too arrange since it’s really just six stems cut to varying lengths to display the blooms. It takes a bit of work to learn how to do this because the blooms are first pods, which, within a few days will open in a state of their grandeur. Not to mention there aroma is absolutely intoxicating! I am so excited about this amazing bouquet that I have had the opportunity to enjoy for the past two weeks.
What gratitude and joy can you find in your life? Even if you are experiencing dark days right now there’s always, always, always something you can find to be grateful for. Give it a try… I bet you will find your circumstances begin to look up, And you feel better in your body as you begin to feel the joy that comes from being grateful.