It's Fall, that time of year where the seasons change. The air gets cooler, the days get shorter, its breezier and things just "feel" different. Even in Florida. It may not be much cooler but change is definitely in the air.
We are in the 4th quarter of the year, these last 3 months usually start off a little slow but quickly begin to pick up speed as the holidays approach and our calendars fill up with party dates, deadlines, decorating, shopping - before we know it is time to start a new year.
But wait. We have 3 more months. Let's take a minute. Breathe. Don't rush it.
Busyness is a coping mechanism. It helps us avoid things and my guess is I am not the only one who uses the rush of being "busy" to bury happy or sad memories that bring hurt, or drown out the feelings of inadequacy for not meeting goals for the year, or for letting yourself and others down, of failed, broken or strained relationships.
As the holidays approach we stay busy and want to drown out the feelings of hurt, abandonment and confusion caused by broken families and relationships, we drown out financial stress by ignoring our situations and spending, spending, spending...and by doing so we end up every January in the same place, playing catch up with our finances and cover up with our hearts and minds.
What can we do? I have some ideas, I hope they will help.
1. Take some time to do a personal inventory of where you were in January vs. where you are now with the goals you set.
Feel free to add things to the list that you accomplished that were not even on your list on January 1st! You will probably find you have accomplished more than you thought you did!
If you find that you haven't, maybe you have had a year full of unfinished plans, a year full of twists and turns (good or bad) you weren't expecting that interrupted your goals and dreams. Maybe you just laid them all down and forgot about them.
Whatever the case is, be brave enough to face those goals and dreams from January, remember them, revisit them.
Some of them may no longer even apply to your life. From the ones that do, pick 1 or 2 you can reasonably do before the new year! Then carry over the rest or rewrite them altogether!
2. Acknowledge the broken, complicated, lost and/or estranged relationships in your life. Privately, but deal with them.
You can do this privately.
No one has to be with you, this does not need to be (and actually I encourage it NOT to be) a public event. I am not talking about "fixing" anything. Especially not "fixing" anything just for the sake of the holidays.*
What I am talking about here is the inner, private turmoil you face every year as you think about these situations and relationships in life with family or friends, especially friends who are or were "like family".
The "ideal" picture of "family holidays" that does not happen for you because your family is so broken, complicated, distant, passed away or estranged it isn't possible to have a big room full of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins all gathering to celebrate life, love and family.
If there is one thing I have learned in my 47 years it is that I am never alone in my victories, defeats or struggles. That means you aren't either!
Most of the time those feelings we stuff, those situations and brokenness we ignore or try to avoid, those are the very things we are not alone in, we just feel alone because most of us don't talk about them openly with anyone.
So as I become vulnerable here, and say openly this is something I deal with especially in this 4th quarter of the year, as the holidays approach, I know there are some of you who deal with this too...no need to comment, I understand it's difficult. I just encourage you to face this with yourself! You won't regret it and you will gain freedom and peace in the process.
Acknowledge is by doing just that...I feel _________ because my family is broken, I feel ___________ because my family is so complicated, I take responsibility for _________ etc... you can write it down, journal it out, talk out loud just say how you feel about it with raw honesty, face it, then forgive yourself and all the "others" in life.
This doesn't have to mean reconciliation (although it can*) but facing all the junk you have been stuffing, forgiving and choosing love, realizing what is in and out of your control and letting go of what is out of your control which then in turn frees you from those things having control over you.
Freedom friends, true freedom...more on this in my upcoming book Finding Freedom.
After you acknowledge how you feel and forgive yourself, accept yourself and your life you will experience the freedom to enjoy the holidays and the new year free from guilt and overwhelming sadness.
You may still feel sad, losing someone who is living or who has passed away is always painful but doesn't have to be so overwhelmingly painful you miss the life and relationships you have now.
*I am not a licensed counselor* some relationships, especially abusive, toxic and extremely complicated ones require professional help and I encourage that! To reconcile relationships that are severely damaged is a delicate task. If reconciliation is what you seek please do so with counsel, guidance and wisdom and do not enter back in to toxic, damaging, abusive relationships.
3. Finances. Take inventory and know you can give without overspending.
My daughter Maggie is the absolute best gift giver. I think she is always paying attention to the people in her life and then looking for personal, unique gifts for each person. I learn a lot from her because she also does this on a budget without overspending! That being said, I am not always the best at this.
I like to spend. I also do NOT like the feeling of having little to less than nothing left after doing all the spending. What about you?
Taking inventory is as easy as balancing your checkbook. Adding up your bills and subtracting that from your income for the month. See what you have. Then go from there!
If you don't have any "extra" for Thanksgiving feasts, parties, Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers then come up with a plan.
Remember, if you are reading this in October, it is the beginning of the 4th quarter! You have time! You can do this!
Sell things on Ebay (come on homeschool moms I know you have some curriculum books laying around you can sell!) , post things on Facebook yard sale groups, start a business (unapologetic plug for my own new Norwex business here www.simplycleanwithwater.com something I thought I would never do but so easy, fun and rewarding!). Drive for Uber or Lyft get a part time job, sell something on Etsy, become a dog walker or sitter through sites like Rover.com...
This is not an exhaustive list, there are so many options! You can bring in some extra cash if you want and need to!
The point is find the money, don't spend what you don't have.
Another tip is to budget for gifts and your holiday feasts. Setting a price limits for these things will at least help you stay in the ball park. Giving personal gifts and making food from scratch also saves money (so many ideas and recipes on Pinterest!) and can be fun.
Most people love receiving something personal and thoughtful as opposed to super expensive. You can do this!
4. Be determined to slow down and ENJOY yourself, in every quarter of the year.
Make good choices with your yes's and no's.
Let go of the guilt you feel when you have to decline a party or event.
Remember just because your calendar looks "free" doesn't mean you have to say yes. Think about it first, carefully decide and if you have to schedule in free time make sure you stay faithful to that free time to sit with a friend, or yourself, read a book, enjoy your Christmas tree or fire place, the beach or a walk, depending on the season.
Whatever time of year it is, free time in your schedule is actually important for your health and brain function. If your schedule is so over packed you constantly feel overwhelmed something needs to change and the best way to avoid the extra busyness that comes at the holidays is be proactive.
Schedule in your free time and be protective of it. Don't make excuses like "well I am choosing to spend my downtime going to a party, or picking up an extra shift, or volunteering". Make time for all that but protect your actual downtime - with nothing on the schedule.
What should you do during this time? Limitless options exist - take a nap, watch a movie, do something creative, read a book, have coffee (like a real coffee date not a rushed one) with a friend, have a leisurely dinner, sit out side, journal, play a game with your family, unplug!!
I hope these 4th quarter Mental Health tips help you as much as they helped me as I shared them with you! I'd love to hear from you! Comment below, email me, connect with me through the SOS email list.
Here's to the best 4th quarter yet!