Enjoying the Holidays
Consider these 5 tips for holiday happiness!!
1- Maintain Reasonable Expectations & Plans
Making time to visit with loved ones is a significant part of this season. However, overdoing with too many plans can seriously undermine the fun factor and ramp up feelings of stress for all. You do not have to pack your days with a series of commitments to appease everyone. In fact, you will enjoy yourself much more if you limit your scheduled plans to the ‘two a day’ rule! This way, you can linger for a bit longer. You can be spontaneous and squeeze in an unexpected adventure when you are not over programmed. Remember, there is no prize for running around and keeping to a tight schedule. In fact, you will bring on burnout and start to wish the holiday season was in the rearview mirror. Insist on fewer obligations and you will experience more fulfillment. How can you be relaxed in the moment, when you are constantly looking at the clock and anticipating the exhausting efforts necessary to race to the next event?
2- Balance Indulgence with Healthy Activities
For many, this time of year is filled with a delicious and steady stream of heavy meals and decadent treats. We often promise ourselves that we can go a little overboard and we’ll get back on track right after New Year’s Day! Many of us are so accustomed to including declarations of weight loss and exercise goals on our list of New Year’s resolutions. We challenge you to take a different approach this time around. For every big meal, schedule a healthy activity! It’s the one-to-one plan. Make it a group effort and ask your family and friends to try it too.
3- Carve Out ‘Me’ Time
It may be something as simple as taking a 30-minute break and going into a quiet space. Maybe sneak away for a hot bath. Getting horizontal for a quick nap, or even just a few moments of relaxation in solitude can do wonders for your mindset and sense of well-being. Scientific American, following the review of multiple neuroscience studies, concluded that: “Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life” (Jabr, 2013). So, strategically and spontaneously, take breaks each day during the hustle and bustle of the season. The cherished holiday memories you create by being at your best self will be enjoyed beyond measure.
4- It IS the Thought that Counts
We all need reminding that the intention behind the gift or party invitation is what REALLY counts! When receiving presents and accepting invitations to attend holiday parties, (even those you may not be looking forward to), consider the simple, yet elegant value of being gracious and saying so out loud. Think of it this way: Someone took the time to think of you, to cook for you, to decorate for you and to include you. Look into the eyes of the giver or the host or hostess AND say ‘thank you’ with heart and purpose.
Take a minute to recall some important moments in your life. Someone may have taken the time to offer you a thoughtful comment, a real hug, a phrase of encouragement or expression of gratitude that really stuck with you, perhaps years later. Everyone wins when these moments are created and honored.
5- Remember the Less Fortunate in a Meaningful Way
The holiday season is a busy time when we get wrapped up in our plans and the powerful focus is on the glitter around us. Yet, there are many who walk amongst us that are struggling in many ways. Be it financial strain, painful reminders of lost loved ones, social isolation, or the abundant presence of addictive triggers during the holidays (such as alcohol and food). Our December holidays, including Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve, Rohatsu (Bodhi Day), Kwanzaa, Solstice, Mawlid el-Nabi… just to name a few, can spark many challenging feelings for many people. A kind word or an unplanned invitation to your dinner table or celebration can offer essential support at a time of year when it may be needed the most.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
Set aside time to give back, or perhaps pay it forward in a meaningful way. Giving may include time, money, or simply offering something to someone which can make a huge difference. Social scientists have observed multiple benefits of charitable behavior for the giver, including psychological well-being and boosts in physical health.
Michael Norton of Harvard Business School repeatedly found that spending money on others increases the happiness of the giver, more so than spending money on themselves (Harvard Gazette, 2008). Researchers at Emory University reported that the psychological phenomenon known as the “helper’s high” inspires mood elevating sensations that keep us coming back for more (Cassity, 2016). When you give to someone else, you become flooded with ‘feel good’ hormones, called endorphins. In fact, the endorphin rush is delicious, addicting and contagious. According to the Cleveland Clinic, being charitable is good for your health too. Health benefits observed by giving behaviors were reductions in blood pressure and physical stress markers, as well as lower levels of reported depression and enhanced feelings of happiness.
We believe you can honor your traditions and try new things at the very same time. Consider including some of these tips in how you approach celebrating the holidays this year. Cheers to happier Holidays!
Bea, S. (2016). Wanna give? This is your brain on ‘helper’s high.’ The Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2016/11/why-giving-is-good-for-your-health/
Cassity, J. (2016). The science of giving: Why one act of kindness is usually followed by another. Happify Daily. Retrieved from http://www.happify.com/hd/the-power-of-a-single-act-of-kindness/.
Jabr, F. (2013). Why your brain needs more downtime. Scientific American. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mental-downtime/.
Walsh, C. (2008). Money spent on others can buy happiness. Harvard Gazette. Retrieved from http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2008/04/money-spent-on-others-can-buy-happiness/