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The Art of Saying "No".... a Path to Peace

Fall montage including blanket, book, cocoa from Sanctuary Christian Counseling in Shippensburg PA

Be where you are. It is a challenge to be present when life gets busy. In our fast-paced world, we are constantly bombarded with distractions that scarcely limit our capacity to be present, which can be even more difficult during the holiday season. Do you notice your blood pressure rising as you wait your turn in the long holiday check-out line? Are you finding your patience evaporating as the traffic backs up and the car in front of you cuts you off? If you can answer yes, you are not alone. Most of us struggle with finding peace this time of year, a time we want to feel it the most. Often we find our “To Do Lists" expanding at a rate that makes our heads spin…. we have meals to plan, cooking to do, gifts to buy and presents to wrap, holiday parties to attend, and don’t forget the decorating and the lights! Soon we can find ourselves lost in our “To Do List” and feeling overwhelmed. PAUSE…BREATHE…FOCUS. Remind yourself of what is important. Have you lost your sense of peace? The holidays are a perfect time to practice the art of saying “no”. I know that is a foreign concept to many of us, but if you feel an invitation begins to feel more like an obligation that is robbing your joy, then it may be time to say “no”, and realize that is okay.

One of the most rewarding gifts we can give ourselves is time- time for a relaxing bath, a hot cup of cocoa…. taking a few moments to renew our energy is essential during the hustle and bustle of the season. The simple idea of being mindful can feel overwhelming when life is less than ideal and often impossible when we are feeling depleted and exhausted. Other small practices that can induce relaxation and mindfulness may include carving out time for a walk and spending a few quiet moments in nature reflecting on the positives in life, writing a gratitude letter, or spending time in prayer or meditation. It is also a good time to look inward and reflect on practices that cultivate a sense of renewed spirit. When we are rested and life is in balance we have more of ourselves to give to others. The holiday season is a time we typically want to be more giving and thankful for our blessings but often that becomes overshadowed when we get too busy.

Finding yourself in a state of appreciation takes intentional energy but it can be very helpful and healing. Gratitude is a practice, and even the smallest gratitude practices can provide enough of a mental shift to make a difference in the outcome of our day. Recently, I placed a gratitude jar in our home. It sits in a place where my children and I are reminded of its presence. Beside it is placed a stack of notecards and a pen which invites us to pause and write down simple things we are grateful for . The idea is that we will fill the jar with notes of the things we are most thankful for and read them out loud around the table before our holiday meal. Realize that wherever you are is okay. Give yourself grace during this time of year and if you are feeling worn out, remember to take time to slow down, say “no” if necessary, and make some time for self-care.

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