Certain times of the year can be challenging and could lead us feeling depressed, anxious and stressed. Seasons, holidays, and certain times of the year can potentially be triggering.
The principles named below come from the work I have done as a licensed creative arts therapist and registered drama therapist for nearly the past twenty years.
Principles for Moving from Surviving to Thriving This Holiday Season
Target Negative Messaging
Often times we send ourselves into a stressful state by believing the thoughts and negative beliefs we have circling in our heads about ourselves. One tool that is effective is targeting negative messaging.
This can be done through writing and journaling or using the psychodrama empty chair technique originated by J.L Moreno, which involves putting the negative thought, message, or even imagined person into a chair. What might you say, write, or express?
Targeting may also help us discern what messages are from other people who have been told to us which are not true or meant for us. This projective technique is a helpful way to express outwardly often times internalized feelings.
Practice Having a Clear Mind
When our external seems frenzied and overwhelming, practicing working towards having a ‘tabula rasa’ state of mind brings us to a calmer state. Beginning a practice of clearing our minds and stripping away any of our attachments, and need for results, outcomes, and perfection, status, and control brings us to a stronger sense of self and builds our inner wisdom.
Practicing quiet moments for reflection can help us have a clear mind. Being in nature, reading, creating, moving our bodies, and reconnecting with ourselves will support our ability to regroup and cleanse ourselves of any toxicity in our lives.
Use Your Intuition
We all have a deep sense of intuition which can support us with making decisions. By tuning in and consulting with our own intuition, we strengthen our ability to trust what we need. Often times, we may grow stagnant and not act in a way that moves us forward in life. We may not be making decisions that serve us.
Intuitively we know how we might feel about someone, a place, whether or not to make that commitment or say yes to certain opportunities that present themselves to us. Our intuition might tell you to wait, say yes, wait to make a choice after a night’s sleep or to say no. Listen to your intuition and the messages it sends.
Create Your Legacy
What is it you stand for? What matters most to you? What causes, topics, and world issues resonate with you? Your legacy is living and breathing and has the potential to create a lasting impact for you, your family, your friends, your neighborhood, community, and world.
Consider what kind of legacy you would like to create for yourself to help you reverse engineer a plan. Once you consider what drives you, you can think of ways to put that passion and drive into action. Your legacy emerges when a loved one delivers your eulogy. What did you stand for? How did you make people feel? What will you be known for? Start creating your legacy today.
Step Into Your Power
Stepping into our power really means being vulnerable and authentic even when it feels risky and scary. When we are vulnerable and step into our power, our brain goes into a crisis freeze, fight, and flight mode. Our brain believes we are in danger and in a crisis when we feel any semblance of vulnerability.
What often happens is fear shows up and questions like: “Will I be loved” emerge. Will I be loved if I take a risk and show the world who I am? Will I be safe? Power comes from becoming acutely self-aware and taking actions based on our own awareness.
Develop Deep Presence
When we operate from a heightened state of awareness and conscientiousness, we have an energy and presence that radiates outward and serves as a magnet for opportunities and people. When we are living in the present moment, we notice and observe moments and catch them before they are able to slip under the radar.
We can develop and deepen our presence by tuning into our five senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste and even our sixth sense of intuition which is discussed here. The first step is being aware of these five senses during our waking life and then allow our senses to help us be more present and then respond and make choices in the moment as a result of listening to our surroundings.
Practice Congruence and Alignment
I use the term congruence a lot in my work with clients and I perceive it to mean our inner values and goals are congruent and matching up with our external, outer life. Often times, we may internally possess certain beliefs and values and then our daily lives do not always match up. If our value is family and we are spending a great deal of time working, we may need to look within to practice more alignment and congruence.
If you value for example family, health, art, helping others in need, and the arts having congruence would mean you are spending quality time with your family, eating healthy and exercising, attending arts events or making art yourself, and volunteering.
When we practice living a congruent and aligned life, we feel a sense of freedom and joy. We are our most aligned self when we our internal state and values match up with our day to day lives and everyday choices.
Choose Love Over Fear
To me, this means when we are about to make a choice in our lives, we decide out of love and not fear. A decision based out of love means that we are choosing out of loving that moment, person, event, job, activity, opportunity, request, and invitation.
Many times, we may choose to do something out of fear. Fear of disappointing someone, being judged, ridiculed, fear that we may miss out, be criticized, or abandoned.
A fear-based choice is always made from our ego.
A choice based on love is always made from the highest part of ourselves. This time of year, especially, may prompt us to make many choices. Out of guilt or fear of not being liked, we may say yes to a choice out of fear. Choices made out fear always have a consequence and ripple effect. A fear-based choice will cause us to feel guilty, resentful, angry, triggered, frustrated, ashamed, anxious, and depressed.
Whereas, a choice made from love will have a radiating effect afterward. We will be left smiling, relaxed, full of joy and ease, and an appreciation for our lives.
Identify If Your Needs Are Being Met
An effective tool to use is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
It is important to assess what level your needs are being met to have an accurate understanding of what needs can next be obtained. Sometimes we may berate ourselves for not accomplishing more goals when really our most basic of needs are not being fully met.
We often strive to reach self-actualization, freedom, recognition, and love when some of our primal basic needs are not being met such as health, a place to live, a place of work, or adequate food or clothes.
We may all desire to reach our fullest potential and be the best one can be, although there may be parts of our lives that are crying out for attention, love, and help. This visual and gentle reminder can gently bring us back to loving ourselves wherever we are in the moment. From here, we may be called to ask for help or act to help ourselves. Let’s also have a sense of compassion for ourselves and our lives and have patience with ourselves.
We can acknowledge that we may need to take time to reach certain goals and aspirations in life or we may need to get comfortable with asking and receiving help.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:
Creativity vs Consumption
We are living in a time where much of our time and days are spent unconsciously consuming. Whether we are consuming information and content via social media, on our devices, television, videos, music, ads, etc. We are bombarded with messages and pictures. We are saturated with other people’s agendas.
This principle of creativity vs. consumption is a term I coined while working with my adult clients as well as my adult students receiving training as drama therapists and creative arts therapists.
This concept highlights the ratio of consumption vs creativity in our own lives. Meaning, it is important to stop and assess our level of time spent consuming versus creating. Are we baking, cooking, writing, painting, working on a business, volunteering, playing with your child. I perceive us being our most healthy when we are creating more than we are consuming.
About the Author: Brooke Campbell
Brooke is the Founder and Director of Creative Kinections, Creative Kinections Institute, and The Mighty Oak. She holds a Master’s Degree in Drama Therapy from New York University and received a certificate from the University of Pennsylvania’s Executive Program for Social Impact and Strategy, where she serves as a teaching fellow.
Brooke is a licensed creative arts therapist, registered drama therapist, and a board-certified trainer of Drama Therapy. She was honored to receive the 2018 Women’s Excellence award in the category of Children’s Advocacy. Brooke was named “NJ’s Favorite Kids’ Doc” in the category of psychotherapy between 2013-2018 by the clients she serves and was featured in NJ Family magazine. Brooke is a guest lecturer at New York University, The School of Visual Arts, and Rutgers University.
Through her work with Creative Kinections, Brooke developed partnerships with schools, universities, hospitals, recreation centers, mental health facilities, non-profit organizations, addictions centers, and domestic violence agencies.
She has 17 years of experience working with individuals of all ages and a specialization with children and those who may struggle with autism, depression, anxiety, trauma, various forms of abuse, women, girls, and parents.
Brooke served several years as the Coordinator and team supervisor of a research-based creative arts therapy program for children exposed to family violence. She has lectured at police stations, national conferences, agencies, and organizations. She received the 2018 Service Award from the North American Drama Therapy Association as part of the NJ Drama Therapy and Dance / Movement Therapy Taskforce for her years of volunteer work advocating for a drama therapy bill.