Hanukkah: Finding Light in the Darkness
Hanukkah is a time for celebrating miracles – the miracle of survival; the miracle of light in the darkness; the miracle of restoration and refreshment; the miracle of second chances. But Hanukkah comes at a time that yes, can be joyous, but also can seem stressful, scary, dangerous. As the nights get longer and the days get shorter, stress levels can soar. Loneliness and sadness can increase. Our need for connection and warmth increases exactly at a time when it can be hardest to seek both connection and warmth.
These past years (I no longer count the months) have been an especially rough time for connection. Too many of us have had to ask ourselves, “How do we emerge from grief and loss?” “How do we support our kids, or our parents, or our partners in finding normalcy?”
Many of us may be asking ourselves how do we find the energy, time, and inner strength to feel joyous and celebrate the miracles of our lives amidst the darkness? Consider the following ideas, one for each night of Hanukkah, to help you find light in the darkness:
1. Count the Miracles
Find a week, perhaps Hanukkah perhaps not, and each day, consider what is a miracle in your life that you can celebrate today. What are you grateful for? What adds to your life?
2. Practice Kindness
Think of something active you can do TODAY to be the light for someone else. Go out of your way to help someone. Let someone know you are thinking of them. Tell someone that they add meaning to your life. Compliment someone.
3. Be Patient with Yourself
We are often our own harshest critics. Allow yourself the time you need. When things are feeling hard, think about what you might say to a friend in that situation, and practice saying it to yourself.
4. Practice Acceptance
As with the above, find a way to practice saying to yourself the same kind, compassionate things you might say to a friend. Focus on progress, not perfection. Remember that perfection is the enemy of good. Say to yourself, “I am good enough.”
5. Reach Out to Others
Have you been thinking about others in your life but not had the time to reach out? Send them a message to say you’re thinking of them. Taking a moment to pause and reach out to others can help bring energy, especially when you least feel like you have it.
6. Have Courage
Put one foot in front of the other. The things you are doing make you YOU. Be brave and show up to your spaces just as you are.
7. Choose Your Battles
Instead of fighting every problem, save time for the things that truly matters. Think to yourself, “Will this worry, this concern, matter tomorrow? In 1 year? 10 years?” In an intentional way, focus your energy on the essential battles, instead of the non-essential. Remember – this too shall pass.
8. Reach Out for Support
At Shalom Austin Jewish Family Service, we are here to help you. Whether it’s financial assistance, support groups, processing, counseling, case management, or more, call us at (512) 250-1043 or email us today. Our goal is to support and empower all in the community. We are here for you.
Written by Alyssa Gilden, Ph.D., LSSP, Child and Family Psychologist at Shalom Austin Jewish Family Service
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