We know from neuroscientists that one way our fight-or-flight reaction can be mitigated is through social engagement. This is why it feels so good when we walk into a room where we don’t know anybody, and feel instantly more at ease if one person talks to us. Boarding a crowded train at the end of the work day, a smile from a stranger can relieve stress. And nothing beats the feeling of finding a friend or loved one in an airport, train station, or unexpectedly on the street.
Where do we find a sense of ease when we spend time alone, either by choice or circumstance? Some enjoy solitude more than others. Listening to the radio, or watching TV or movies may provide distraction. More valuable, though, are the connections we make through reading, listening to music, or engaging in our own creative expression, such as painting, crafts, making music, cooking or writing. These are all ways in which we can feel accompanied by our own selves. Quiet time to meditate or think can enhance our feeling of belonging -- to ourselves, to our world, and when we step out of our alone time, to be more fully present with and for others.
Whether you are surrounded by friends and family, with just one special person, or exploring on your own this holiday season, I hope you can find ways in which to connect more authentically, in peace and safety with yourself and others!