By Kirk Wilkinson

Author of The Happiness Factor: How to be Happy No Matter What!

The fast-approaching holiday season represents one of two things to people: 1. A joyous time of the year meant to spend time with friends and family, or 2. A bleak prospect—a time when other’s contentment only magnifies the stress and sadness in your own life.

But even during the often-grim emotional turbulence of the holiday season, it is possible to emerge a better, happier person To help people prepare for the anxiety of the holiday season, here are 10 tips for beating the holiday blues:

1. Make your own merry: Recognize that you are the only one responsible for creating a stress-free and happy holiday season. There are many people in worse situations so get into to the spirit of the season and enjoy it no matter what! Don’t wait for anyone else to make this a great holiday. Remember that the spirit of the holidays is created from within.

2. Be a holiday hero:

  • At the drive thru: Pay for the person behind you at the drive through or standing in the coffee line. You will definitely make someone’s day.
  • Do something unexpected: There is nothing like having someone do something nice that is unexpected. Doing that for someone today will help make his or her holiday happier and make you feel happier too.
  • Donate your time: For many of us, time is more valuable than money. Giving your time is very personal and appreciated more than any material gift.
  • Reach out to those in need, face-to-face: There are so many opportunities to give donations, gift certificates and be charitable. All of that is good. But if you really want to stay upbeat during the holidays, find a way to be of service face-to-face. You will feel the warmth and gratitude that will in turn help you appreciate all you have in life, and help you participate in the holidays in a new and meaningful way.

 

3. It’s ok to fly solo: Accept invitations to go out and join others even if it means going alone. Don’t make excuses only to stay at home and bemoan being alone. You will feel better being out than in.

4. Don’t over-indulge:

  • On spending: Set a budget and stick to it – even if it means giving gifts that are more thoughtful. Don’t create more stress by going in debt to buy a gift.
  • On giving: Don’t over-give. In your heart, you know what is appropriate. You don’t need to impress anyone by what you give. Give what your heart and intuition tells you.
  • On partying: Remember, that at office parties, family dinners and other gatherings, moderation is always a good policy.

 

5. Unwrap and unwind: If you do get down, or feel like you have the blues – don’t let it last. Accept you may be having a down day and do something about it. Call an old friend and reconnect. Go somewhere to escape the madness and mediate on what the season really means to you. Remember that laughter is the best medicine so learn to laugh at yourself, subscribe to a joke page, go to a comedy club or rent a funny movie. Take charge of lifting your own spirits.

6. Look for miracles: Start noticing the nice things people do for each other during the holidays. You may even want to keep a list. Once you start to look for these miracles, you will see that there are many people doing wonderful things for others. This will renew your spirit and create a positive attitude helping you stay upbeat.

7. Forgive and accept: When it comes to family and friend gatherings, stress can add up. You can reduce this stress by going to those events having cleared the air of any grudges. Also, accept that these gatherings will not be perfect. Unload your expectations and go with the intent of enjoying the time with family and friends.

8. Be emotionally generous: There is so much emphasis on gift-giving that we can forget that giving who we are, not just of what we have, can be the greatest gift of all. Give someone the benefit of the doubt, be welcoming, kind and understanding to everyone you encounter without judgment. By being emotionally generous, you will feel the true spirit and meaning in this holiday season.

9. Simplify:

  • Gift indecision: Don’t stress out over what to give. Typically, your first idea is the best. However, I suggest you step back from the decision and let the answer come to you. My advice is to go simple over elaborate.
  • Don’t stress out over the “should’s” of the holidays: Prioritize those events and gatherings that you want to attend. Evaluate the ones that you feel you need to attend and gracefully decline the others. You don’t need to give excuses just simply say thank you for the invitation but that you have other plans. Even if your plans are to unwrap and unwind – those are your “other plans.”

10: A “pity party” is not a holiday party: Be grateful and gracious about all you have and don’t focus on what you don’t have. Look around you, even if your situation is not ideal, there are still many things to be grateful for!

Kirk Wilkinson, the author of “The Happiness Factor: How to be Happy No Matter What!,” has been a life coach, mentor and workshop leader for more than 20 years. He advises on personal development, relationships, spirituality, parenting and career-related issues. He is a graduate of California State University with a degree in computer science, and also attended The Whittier College School of Law. For more information, visit www.thehappinessfactor.com.

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