The media is all a-blitz with pictures of happy shoppers, tree-trimmers, and revelers. There are happy snowflakes adorning city and shopping mall lampposts. Everyone is full of holiday cheer, right?
Not always. The holidays are not necessarily happy times for everyone. For those who have lost a loved one recently, are in a health or relationship crisis, have impending lay-offs at work, or troubled children, the thought of the merry season may feel more like looming stress and sorrow.
Here are some tips for upgrading your holiday season during real-life tough times.
1) …deny that things are tough. Give yourself moments to feel your feelings- share them with a trusted friend or counselor.
2) …lie in bed or sit in a dark room staring at a computer screen, even if you feel sad. Bundle up and take a brisk winter walk. It will give you some much-needed (mood-enhancing) vitamin D and dopamine (from moving your muscles). Life might not be better yet, but you will FEEL a little better.
3) …feel like you must keep all the same traditions. Maybe it is time to invite new people to spend time with you. Go to a new Christmas program at a church or community center. Visit a holiday exhibit at an art museum. It might be interesting to learn some holiday traditions from other countries and try them out with your family or friends.
4) …isolate yourself. Invite some other folks from your church or interest group over to your home. Participate in a few special events — even if you don’t feel like it. Go volunteer at worthy organizations.
5) …notice something beautiful. Stop and gaze at a beautiful sky, a flock of birds, or artwork. Listen to some beautiful music (try a new genre). Beauty is like a vitamin for the soul. Gradually it develops the feeling of gratitude and hopefulness in a person.
6) …deep breathing. Oxygen is your friend. Take a few minutes at the beginning and the end of your day to breathe calmly, deeply, slowly. It will help lower your stress hormones. You need that!
7 …nurture yourself. Spend a little time each day doing something you love (not just social media). Play guitar, paint, knit, bake, take bubble baths, or work in your garage. Doing things you love helps restore your soul.
8) …encourage someone. When we give encouragement to others (which takes some effort when we feel down or stressed), we start feeling a little better ourselves.
9) …find something silly to watch or to do. Watch goofy You Tubes until you start laughing hard. Read a joke book to the kids. The laughter is bonding for the family and releases healthy hormones for you.
10) …learn something new. Memorize something (Scripture, poems, prayers of old saints, silly stories, vocabulary words, a new language). This is good, healing exercise for your brain and your soul.
Difficult times don’t have to mean a horrible holiday season. Take care of yourself! If you would like to work on some healing, this is a good time to start. Call the office here at Pike Creek Psychological Center and schedule a visit with one of our counselors.