25 Lessons I’ve Learned in 25 Years: Curing the Holiday Hangover

Back to our regular scheduled programming! Raise your hand if you feel like a big ol’ pile of mush after the past few weeks of binge-eating chocolate & baked goods, attending one too many family dinners, and taking in all of the drama that comes with the holidays. You are not alone, my lovelies. The holidays are tough. Overwhelming. Draining. Especially for someone who celebrates the Winter Solstice, Christmas, New Year’s AND her birthday all in a two-week span. (Hi, that’s me). I am physically, emotionally, mentally, exhausted. The good news; I have returned to my practice, my writing, my self-care-ing, and am coming out of the holidays more inspired than ever!

I have rounded up another five lessons to share with you under the theme of “Curing the Holiday Hangover.” I have no doubt that many of you are feeling sluggish and a bit hazy (or perhaps literally hungover) as we move into a new year (Hello, 2018!). For some, the first week back to work and/or school is over. Didn’t that feel like the longest week ever?

Please know that I am sending you all luck & love during this transition. I hope the following lessons inspire ease into “regular” life.

11. Food is not the enemy!

I get it. I also feel like I gained about fifty pounds over the last month. But, hey, even if you did, you are still (and will always be!) absolutely beautiful. And yes, perhaps the several trays of baked goods didn’t help me feel any better about myself. But, food is seriously not the enemy. It took me a long time to truly understand that.

I’ve always been a bigger girl. Overweight. Fat. Whatever. Growing up, I hated the way I looked. I was ridiculed by other kids (and adults). And constantly made aware of my size. I blamed my “weight problem” on everyone and everything. I starved myself of the necessary fuel my body needed; fuel that was helping me grow as a young woman. It got to the point where I hated eating. I would see the pizza my family was having for dinner & dread putting it in my mouth. I would drink Red Bulls through school so I wouldn’t feel the hunger pains. (Don’t ask for the logic behind that one). Bottom line, my hate for food, and eating in general, ran deep. But, it wasn’t food’s fault. Food had done nothing to me but prepare my body for growth & provide energy for focus & exercise.

So, who was to blame for the hatred I held for my body & for food?

I’ll tell you who; thirteen-year-old boys who were clueless (and probably still are) about the female body, adults who had no business passing comments on a young girl’s body, all media outlets telling me my body was wrong, the recognition my thin friends would receive from teachers, parents, and those same clueless boys. All of this combined made for a terribly self-conscious adolescent girl.

It also made for an exceedingly confident woman. Like I said, it took a long time, but I know that I am beautiful. Regardless of what size my jeans are this year, or how much I ate over the holidays.

Regardless of all of that, you are beautiful too. Don’t be so hard on yourself, darling. And eat the damn piece of cake.

12. Your mental health does not define you.

I had a difficult time coming up with the right words to say here.

If you are suffering from mental health issues, you are stronger than you know. You continually face battles within your mind & you continue to live and even thrive!

Without getting too deep into my own mental health, I just want to extend some words of encouragement, understanding and love. I think we all need a bit of that after the busy rush of the holidays.

You are so much more than any disorder you may be suffering from. You are more than the self-deprecating words running back & forth through your head. More than trembling hands and a racing heartbeat. There is more to you than your eating disorder, or your compulsive/impulsive behaviour. You are you. With all of your wants and needs. Dreams, desires and fears. Dislikes and loves. Habits; good and bad.

You are worthy of help. And you are not alone. If any of you ever feel helpless, please reach out. I know firsthand how hard that can be. But, I promise, with all of my heart, that you will benefit. And if you don’t know where to start, my inbox is always open. Sometimes a stranger is the best kind of therapist.

13. “No.” is a complete sentence.

And it does not need an explanation.

Fun fact: it was also my first word! Imagine that. Me. A Capricorn. Unheard of.

Zodiac jokes aside, I really believe this is an important lesson. You are allowed to say “No.” You are allowed to deny an invite to a party. You can say “No” to your family. Or your friends. Or your boss. And that weird dude that keeps messaging you on Facebook … and Instagram? Please, say “No” to him too.

You may feel guilty. Like, really guilty. Especially if whoever you are saying “No” to is important to you. But, it won’t last long. You will soon realize how utterly freeing the word “No” can be. During the holidays especially, we often feel a pressure to be with our families and to give more than we have. Not everyone gets along with or is accepted by their families. “Home” can be far less than a safe space to be. To those dear souls, I hope you are now in a safer space & that you remember you are allowed to say “No” too.

I’ve heard the saying, “You don’t need to be everywhere for everyone,” a lot lately and even though I don’t know who originally said those words, I could not agree more. I believe in only saying “Yes” to the things my mind, body & soul can handle. I hope you can work that lesson into your life as well.

And a quick word about consent: If someone is saying “No” to you, stop asking. No matter what the situation is. But, especially if you are asking about sex. Don’t try to change their mind. Don’t blow up their DM’s. Just stop.

14. Try everything once.

One of the best ways to get over a hangover (holiday-induced or otherwise) or out of a slump, is to do something! Why not try something new? Have you ever tried yoga? (Your back will thank you for that choice). Hiking? Biking? What about picking up a guitar? Or a sketchbook & pencil?
It was only in my wildest dreams that I would run a blog & connect with so many wonderful people through it. Returning to this space continues to pick me up out of my literal and figurative hangovers.
I encourage you to think about all the things you have never tried up until this moment. What has been holding you back? Maybe it’s simply a fear of the unknown. Hey, we all can relate. Or, maybe a friend told you that thing sucks even though you were kinda sorta interested in trying it. So, you never bothered. This is me telling you, dear reader, to try it! Try it all! And let me know how it works out.

“You never know if you never try. If you never try, then you never know.” – Val, Broad City.

15. Remove anything in your life that only serves to hurt you.

I know I say that all of these lessons are important. And they are. But this one, while also close to my heart, is perhaps the most important. Have I said that already? Oh well. This one wins. And again, this isn’t a lesson you learn in school. This is another that you must learn and fully realize on your own. In your own time.

There is one specific relationship I was involved in that taught me this lesson. A toxic pseudo-relationship that was always on the cusp of something but never turned into more than heartache. It took many sleepless nights, late drunken phone calls, intense arguments & failed resolutions, thousands of kilometres of separation, and too many tears to make me realize how the entire relationship, from start to finish, only served to hurt me, again and again.

My friends told me what a wreck this person made me. How they brought me down instead of lifting me up. They asked how I could love someone who hurt me so much. I didn’t have an answer for them. When I finally (after three years) realized for myself all the things my friends had told me, saw the person for who they truly were, and told them they would never be in my life again, I felt the biggest weight lift from my shoulders. I didn’t know how heavy someone else’s energy could be until then. And my only regret was not letting them go sooner.

Since then, I have adopted the habit of removing anything (friends, lovers, jobs, world views, belief systems, even social media platforms) that does not serve my higher self, my most authentic self.

Moving into this new year full of promise, growth, and challenges, it is an opportune time to let go of all that hurt you in the past year(s). Let the heavy energy roll off your back and into the past. And I will be right there with you.

With love & light ~ zz

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