Mantras are one of my favorite tools and I reach for them especially when I have to navigate situations that are difficult, overwhelming, or particularly taxing on my mind, body, or soul.
The quiet repetition of a mantra is one of the most effective ways I offer my mind more loving thoughts during tough moments. As with most self-care strategies, they aren’t a magical “fix-everything” tool.
Mantras are one of the many practices in my extensive “holiday soul-care toolkit” and I use them frequently to make the most out of this special season, while also mindfully managing the ups and downs of living with chronic illness.
I love the fact that although they are a relatively “low effort”, mantras consistently are one of my “highest yield” support tools. I have many post-it’s with them around my house and keep a list of them on my phone for easy reference wherever I am and reach for them on a regular basis.
Here are some of my favorites:
How often do you find yourself worrying about what will happen, before it’s actually happened?
If you’re anything like me, your answer might be: a freakin’ lot of the time!
Learning how to kindly interrupt worry loops without shaming myself has been one of the most effective ways for me to manage my fear and anxiety more effectively and smooth some of the chaos that spins up like a tornado funnel cloud swirling around worrisome thoughts.
Staring down the barrel of a holiday itinerary that is asking for more stamina than you have during even your best symptom and stamina months is intimidating. It’s difficult to describe the toll that chronic illness can have on your emotions when special events are approaching, and you aren’t sure how much pain is going to interfere with your ability to actually be present for and enjoy them.
Whether it is traveling home or going on a vacation, really wanting to go see your niece perform in the Nutcracker, attending a cookie decorating party, or being part of the Christmas tree farm selection crew — there are certain holiday activities that have an extremely high sentimental value and it is gut-wrenching to imagine either participating in them while in pain or having to miss out on them.
This mantra softly reminds me that even if it all goes “wrong”, I can make my way through whatever I need to. I have survived impossible flares, inside of impossible situations (the 8 hour red-eye from LAX to Tahiti with a rager migraine comes to mind) before, and that knowledge lets me rest in the assurance that even if it ends up being incredibly tough, I will survive again.
Letting people down is tricky any time of the year, but letting loved ones down over the holidays comes with an extra dose of guilt.
I need to remind myself (sometimes daily) that boundaries are not reactionary or mean; but rather, they are responsive and kind.
At the end of the day, you are the only one who knows what it feels like to be you. This means that, at times, you will be the only one who can completely understand what it is that you need, when you need it, and why you need it.
Remember that you are doing that so you can show up with even more love and presence when you do spend time with the people you care about.
There are moments throughout the holiday season when you just have to relax into what is happening. Whether that looks like gifts getting plopped into gift bags instead of being meticulously wrapped, having the kids watch a few extra movies in front of the TV, or making a shorter appearance at a holiday event than anticipated… give yourself the gift of reassuring yourself that your best, in any given moment, is good enough (even if it doesn’t feel like it!)
This was the first mantra I ever spoke aloud or practiced repeatedly writing, and it remains one of my favorites of all time. After several years of working to embrace and embody this belief, something unexpected occurred that fueled me to continue incorporating it into my self-talk.
As I learned to love and accept myself — imperfections, pain flares, health limitations — and all, I started to feel the same love and acceptance mirrored more deeply in my relationships. I don’t know if it was me modeling what loving behavior looks like for a person living with chronic illness or if my unconditional self-love made me more receptive to it from others. I have to assume it is a combination of both. Returning to this mantra like an anchor, especially in the moments where I don’t feel like I am enough, continues to smooth my journey through life. I hope it can do the same for you too!
I’d love to know what mantras you would add to this list, for livin’ in general or the holidays specifically!
May you find joy in a million small, unexpected moments, right where you are this year; may that be “enough”, and may that make this the best holiday season possible.
All my love,
I share each step along my road to wellness and healing and hope that in doing so I can inspire you along your own path. Thank you so much for being here.