So, it’s still officially the first week of December, but I bet if you think ahead a little bit, you’ll find that you suddenly begin to feel pressure about what’s coming up in the rest of this month.
And that feeling of pressure lives somewhere in your body. Take a second and just notice where that feeling sits in your body. I tend to feel it in my gut – like a sudden surprise- and carry the tension from the pressure in my jaw. Everyone has a different place they carry this feeling- just notice where yours is.
The feeling of stress and tension is one I worry about a lot for women, especially mid-life, peri-menopause, and Sex Surge women. Why? Because stress and tension are two experiences that touch a lot of different areas in the body.
When the stress hormones (primarily cortisol and epinephrine) make their way around the body, they do so through the bloodstream. And that means those stress hormones touch everywhere the blood that carries them goes. Stress hormones have a near-immediate impact on blood pressure, blood glucose, muscle tension, and breathing rate. These changes, if sustained over time, can cause serious harm to your health. If you’re a modern woman, there is barely ever any time for you to come down from those stress hormones into a state of relaxation.
Add to this the difficulty of handling All The Things if you’re a mid-life woman (no joke, we still do 40+ hours of work at home each week beyond actual work work), shifting hormones if you’re in peri-menopause which can make you feel like crying or raging at the drop of a hat (and may happen a mere 10 minutes apart from each other), and the pressures that come with the Sex Surge and it can feel like you’re about to blow a gasket.
And then, the effing holidays.
This is why I talk about stress reduction and self-care so much: they are necessary tools to fight back against the damage that stress and pressure do to us each day.
There is one key that can help with all of these stages and all of the pressures, though.
Desire has a lot of synonyms: want, longing, ambition, craving, aspiration, need, hunger, passion, thirst. In my experience, though, I have come to define desire as the highest of my wishes or needs- the ones that I know serve my highest good and make me into the most fulfilled version of myself. And when I take a bit of time to sit and think about what I most desire and how to try and get it, the pressure eases.
Now, tuning in to true, fulfilling desires can be tricky and look very different for different people and situations.
For one woman, her desire may mean she doesn’t help decorate the tree this year.
For another woman, decorating the tree is her deepest desire and so she doesn’t clean that day in order to have time to enjoy the tree.
For one woman, desire looks like telling every family member who is bothersome to stay away.
For another woman, her deepest desire is to welcome everybody in the family with more compassion.
For one woman, desire looks like a whiskey and some pretzels alone by the tree one night.
For another woman, desire is knowing the pretzels make her feel bad, so she avoids them.
For one woman, keeping the holidays “just like they always were” serves her desire to feel normal amidst peri-menopause.
For another woman, blowing up traditions serves her need to recreate herself in peri-menopause.
Each woman has different desires- each woman knows what she needs (which is why you won’t find a lot of judgment around here- you gotta do what you gotta do and I totally respect your right to do whatever that is). But tuning into your deepest desire is what’s helpful.
How do we know what our deepest desires are? They tend to feel solid, even if they are difficult. For instance, myself and many others have to draw clear boundaries with family members. It’s not fun to do that, but it definitely serves my deepest desire- which is to not be bled dry by energy suckers. Often, if you begin to look into what you most desire for a situation, the truth will be clear- you just have to listen and accept it (which can also be hard to do).
Desire is a really valuable tool. It can point the way to who we most want to be, what we most want to have and experience in this life. Desire can also be a tough teacher, but those lessons tend to make us grow, in my experience. Tuning into your deepest, most fulfilling desires is one way to take the pressure off the holidays because as we tune into what we most want, the choices become clearer. Let your most fulfilling desires find their way into your life and let them lead you.