Do you look forward to the Holidays with anticipation or dread? This can be a stressful time for many people.
We overload ourselves with too much to do, too much to buy, and let’s face it, families can be challenging at times.
Here are some happiness tips for the holidays and beyond.
Practice smiling – Even if you have to fake it at first
I’m not saying to blast everyone with loads of fake crazy smiles, just a nice smile can cause a physiological reaction, but smiling can trick your brain into happiness. It’s hardwired into your muscles; the muscles used in smiling boosts endorphins and causes other changes.
I have many examples from my life, here’s just one that I’ve never forgotten. Many years ago I was a 26-year-old newly single mother of a 6-year-old and I was having a tough time. But once a week, I’d go out dancing. One night someone asked me if I was really as happy as I seemed since I always had a smile. I thought about it for a moment and replied, “No, but what I’ve discovered that if I come in here with a frown, I have a terrible time. But if I smile and look people in the eye, they look back and smile and before I know it, my smile is real and I’m having a good time.” 1 2
Practice Gratitude – find something good to say to everyone
I get it that this isn’t always easy. Sometimes life is difficult, as too are some of the people in your life.
Inner Gratitude – When you start noticing even tiny little things and feeling grateful for them, your mood lifts, and after a while, you actually begin seeing more and more positive things.
Sharing your Gratitude aka Compliments – This can be hard to do, but it is something you can learn.
I grew up feeling like most of the time when someone was giving me a compliment it was because they wanted something from me. So as an adult, I’ve had to work very hard at being complimentary because I don’t want to be perceived as manipulative. However, I’ve found that if I can truly find something positive to say to someone, especially if it’s something that’s not always obvious, most of the time it shifts both our moods and creates a better connection between us.
Dig deep and find something you genuinely like about someone; did they handle a situation well, do they go out of their way to be helpful, do you like a craft or hobby they engage in, do you admire how they weathered a difficult time?
By seeing the good in others, you actually bring more good into the world, but you also start seeing more and more that there are things to be happy and grateful for. 3
Exercise more – Even seven minutes might be enough
Oftentimes at family gatherings, we tend to stay in the house sitting around or cooking etc, and our normal exercise routine goes out the door.
Taking time to exercise can break up that routine, get your endorphins working and release stress.
What you do isn’t important, so find something you enjoy, dance, swim, run, jog, bike (inside or out) practice Tai Chi, Qi Gong or whatever gets your body moving but if you’re going to do it regularly, why not have fun with it. 4
Get outside in nature – and even better, take a walk
You can do this alone or in a group. If you can, get everyone outside, even if you have to bundle up. Spice it up with a walk in a park or a well-decorated neighborhood followed by a little hot spiced cider or cocoa.
When you’re outside your energy expands, releasing tension and uplifting your spirits. Just 20 minutes will do it. You can certainly fit that in on a daily basis. 5
Get enough sleep – you’ll be less sensitive to negative emotions
Over the holidays you may be out at parties, visiting with friends and family, often staying up past your normal bedtime. In short, you end up sleep-deprived and stressed. We often think that stress is what keeps us awake, but some professionals believe that in many cases it’s the lack of sleep that causes the stress.
Most people need 7-9 hours of sleep a night. It’s best to try to go to bed and rise at the same time each day as that keeps your circadian rhythms in better balance. Each hour of lost sleep creates a deficit. If you lose
When you’re sleep deprived your thoughts and emotions tend to be much more sensitive and prone to negative reactions. Sleep helps your body, mind and emotions recover and repair themselves, and it’s an important factor in your happiness.
Relax and allow yourself to just be in a state of love and appreciation
If you’re like most people, there are old issues, hurts, regrets, etc between you and family or friends.
There’s often a tendency to try to clear it all up during a get-together. But what usually happens is that nothing is resolved and everyone retreats back into their hurt or anger losing sight of the love they have between them
What if you make it a family rule not to discuss old issues. But it’s okay to tell stories about the good times?
One Holiday I arrived at my parents’ house for a weekend along with my 3 siblings. I’d been going through an intense time of self-reflection and clearing and was sure that what I needed to do was to bring up these old issues and “clear the air”. But something stopped me. Every time I started to mention something that was painful from our past, someone would start telling some stupid story about something from our past – like going to Disneyland in matching outfits that our mother had sewn. We’d laugh uproariously and more and more stories were shared.
Not one person brought up anything to be “cleared, nor did we discuss politics or religion.
Play Games – A couple of people brought games that all ages could play together. It was surprising, we got even the teens joining in the fun. It’s now a fun holiday tradition and we try to bring several different kinds of games so there will be something for everyone. Tip – keep the rules simple and the play fun, don’t let it get competitive. Don’t worry if play stalls while stories are told, food is passed around, The point is to have something fun to do while sharing love and laughter.
It was one of the best gatherings we’d ever had. I realized how wonderful it had been to just be together and love each other unconditionally for who we were right now. Since that time that’s been our model for all family gatherings and despite some very different lifestyles and beliefs we all love being together and leave feeling loved and appreciated.
We hope you have many joyful holidays filled with love and gratitude.
- Smiling can trick your brain into happiness and boost your health
- Study: For a better workday, smile like you mean it. Although this is about work, it holds true in all areas of your life
- Want to Feel More Positive? Learn to Give Genuine Compliments
- The Scientific 7-minute Workout
- Spending Just 20 Minutes in a Park Makes You Happier. Here’s What Else Being Outside Can Do for Your Health
Some of these ideas taken from
10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier, Backed By Science
We’ve written many Holiday Coping articles over the years. You may find some of these of interest
· 10 Tips to Minimize Your EMF Radiation Exposure While Traveling
· How Can You Get Through the Holidays With More Ease?
· Why are the Holidays so Difficult for Sensitive People? And What Can you Do About it?
· Holiday Tips: Change Stress to Enjoyment!
· Smile and Laugh Your Way Through the Holidays
· 7 Tips to De-stress Your Holidays
· Slow Holidays: A Survival Guide for Sensitives, HSPs and Empaths
· Are you feeling like a Raving Lunatic, or feeling the stress of the holidays?
· What is your Holiday HSP Sensitivity Profile?
· Shopping with Intention: Giving What Only You Can Give
· Tips for Getting through the Holidays with a Little Sanity