Even though the holidays are supposed to be a joyous time of year as you celebrate with family and friends, they have the tendency to elicit feelings of depression, loneliness and despair, leading to bouts of depression and a sense of feeling utterly overwhelmed by expectations.
The holidays aren’t always merry and bright … keep reading to find out how to stay joyful this year even if you’re feeling stressed to the max.
And it seems everywhere you turn you hear on the news or read in the newspaper stories about the poor state of the economy — only compounding feelings of desperation.
By changing your outlook on the holidays and practicing gratefulness for the people in your life and your health — along with finding ways to give back — you can start embracing the holiday season once again with open arms. It’s amazing how showing your love, consideration and serving others changes your perspective during times of hardship and stress to a more positive one.
Philosopher Albert Schweitzer eloquently expressed what gratitude meant to him in this quote:
“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
And writer Ruth Ann Schabacker captured the essence of gratitude in the following sentiment:
“Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.”
You, too, can replace negativity and depression with inspiration, love, fun and joy by following the below techniques to expressing gratitude.
4 Ways to Grow the Gratitude Garden in Your Life
1. Change your language and your heart will open
Be mindful and conscious of how you talk to others and yourself and watch how your life opens up to more things to be grateful for. Research has shown that it’s impossible to be fearful and appreciative at the same time, so the next time you find yourself in a negative rant, take a step back, shift your thoughts to what you are grateful for and the people you appreciate in your life and let your heart grow.
2. Find a gratitude partner
Find someone close to you to help you keep your thoughts positive and focused and looking at the glass of life as being two-thirds full. Gratefulness is a muscle that needs to be worked out on a regular basis. Similar to a running or walking partner, your gratitude partner is there to “keep you in check” and encourage you to get back on track when you slip back to negative thinking.
3. Remember those who have been there for you
One helpful way to practicing gratefulness is remembering those who have helped you through difficult times or were by your side to celebrate joyous moments in your life’s journey. Taking the time to remember those who showed you kindness, acted as a mentor or believed in you will expand your gratitude threshold. You can also write a letter of thanks and read it aloud to that special someone face to face.
4. Start a gratitude journal
Before you think you don’t have time to do this, you can make it simple by writing down five things you are grateful before going to bed each night. You can increase your list as time goes by. Then, at the beginning of each day you can look over your list and start your day with a personalized sense of gratitude.
Try out the Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude to get started. It offers the perfect place to record your daily moments of gratitude and even provides inspirational quotes to boost your mood.
Staying Emotionally Healthy All Season Long: 10 More Tips
Your emotional health is closely tied to your physical health and if you’re not feeling good mentally then you begin to form physical ailments. Here are nine techniques to keep your emotions at a happy and healthy level throughout the holiday season.
1. Lower Expectations to a Modest Level—If you continue to try to live up to a Norman Rockwell/It’s a Wonderful Life kind of a holiday each year, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Make your holidays your own and stop thinking about how you think they should be and you’ll get much more enjoyment out of them.
By setting realistic expectations, you can hope for the best and handle any problems that may come your way with more flexibility and ease.
2. Start a New Family Tradition, Volunteer or Make a Donation—Change your usual routine and do something different this year by coming up with a list from each family member with five things they think would make the holidays more memorable and fun this year. One or more of these things could become an annual tradition. Volunteering at a local soup kitchen is a great way to give back as a family to those less fortunate.
You can also start a donation pile for specific causes such as giving your old cell phone to victims of domestic violence or getting your kids involved by finding and giving extra school supplies to underfunded public schools.
|Rest Easy This Holiday Season …
If the stress of the holidays is keeping you up at night, try drifting off to sleep with relaxing music – that helps you find deep restful sleep. Users of helpful relaxing sleep CDs have reported falling asleep faster, waking up less throughout the night, falling back to sleep faster when awakened during the night and feeling more rested the next morning.
3. Don’t Take on All the Holiday Work Yourself, Delegate Some Holiday Responsibilities—Be specific with your requests. You could ask a relative to bring a dish to your holiday dinner. Give some guidance and you will find that family members are more willing to help out more than you may expect.
Request that your relatives bring a dish to your holiday dinner. Ask your spouse to pull out the holiday decorations from storage and get your kids involved with decorating and simple house cleaning jobs like dusting.
4. You Have Control Over how you React to Family Dramas—If you have two relatives that you know aren’t on speaking terms, remember that it is their issue and you don’t have to get involved or let it affect your holiday.
Keep your limits and boundaries in place, be mindful of your hot buttons and have a plan in place — this might mean walking away or avoiding the person or situation that is prone to conflict.
5. Honor your Loved Ones no Longer with You—Holidays are usually a difficult time for those who recently lost a loved one. Instead of becoming depressed you could seek out special ways to remember your loved one such as giving a toast, having a drink they liked or making one of their favorite dishes and incorporating that into your holiday ritual.
6. Keep a Healthy Schedule and Don’t Skip out on Sleep—It may be easier said than done, but try to maintain a normal routine that includes enough sleep to stay refreshed and energized.
This means leaving holiday parties at a reasonable time and avoiding present-wrapping all-nighters. Once you are in bed for the night, to help you unwind from your busy day listen to a restful relaxing music to help you “shift gears” and fall off to sleep.
7. Make Time to Exercise—Add exercise to your “daily things to do list” this holiday season and enjoy its anti-anxiety and anti-depression benefits. You can get creative to fit in exercise such as taking a few extra laps around the mall your next shopping trip or taking a walk to the post office instead of driving to drop off your Christmas cards.
Exercising increases the levels of endorphins in your body, which stimulate your immune system, reduce stress and put you in a better mood. It’s a good idea to incorporate stretching with your exercise routine, as it will provide you with increased energy levels and an even greater sense of well-being.
There are countless stretches for your body, but it takes just 15 of them to stretch 95 percent of your body, according to stretching expert Jacques Gauthier.
8. Eat sensibly—Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t give you the green light to overindulge in food or alcohol. You can still eat and drink your favorite dishes, desserts and cocktail, just in moderation.
You’ll find yourself feeling better about yourself physically and emotionally if you don’t overdo it. If you do go a little overboard on your mom’s homemade cookies, tell yourself it’s okay and you’ll get back on track the next day.
9. Elevate your Mood with a Sun Lamp—Now that daylight savings time has passed and days are growing shorter, people tend to become gloomier due to lack of sunlight. Even if you’re not diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) you’ll gain great benefits from investing in a full-spectrum sun lamp like the Solarex Sun Lamp — which features a special 27W bulb that provides as much light as a typical 150W incandescent bulb, and lasts up to 5 times longer — to lift your mood.
10. Give Yourself a Break and Take Some Time for Yourself to Savor the Holidays—Your body and mind know how to relax — you just need to give them “permission” to do so.