Does the holiday season, at times, leave you feeling a bit “Grinchy”? We all have expectations that our holiday season will reflect what we see in those greeting card commercials: everything is pristine with a blanket of fresh white snow; families are sitting at the holiday table enjoying an exquisite home-cooked meal; and the lights from the perfectly decorated Christmas tree glisten in the background. But as the classic holiday movie, A Christmas Story, shows us, it’s not always quiet and calm. Through a series of plot twists including flat tires, smoking furnaces, altercations with bullies, busted glasses, a battle with a lamp, and a Christmas turkey devoured by the Bumpus’ hounds, we are reminded that the holiday season is really about family and love, amidst all the chaos the holidays tend to bring. Read on for a few suggestions to help you maintain the holiday cheer during this time of year.
Most of us attempt to show love through food and gifts. If the budget is extra tight this year, or you simply don’t have time to make your famous holiday cookies, consider other ways you can show loved ones you care. Consider spending quality time together playing a board game, performing acts of service for your family members, or simply sitting down for an intimate conversation with your significant other in front of the fire. For example, I have a friend that lives in North Carolina, who I only see once a year, if our schedules permit. Our gifts to each other are the gifts of time. Two years ago, when my friend visited, she helped me build my apartment furniture while watching the Cowboy’s game. Last year, we saw a movie. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s about spending quality time together. Reevaluate your focus on what you feel the holidays represent, and can you share this vision with others.
There is much pressure this time of year to be cheerful, find the perfect present, and attend all holiday parties and family functions with a smile on our face. Learn to say “no” once in a while, whether it’s buying gifts or hosting an event. Parties, travel, and shopping often give way to little down time. Also, don’t let the business of the holidays be an excuse to take a break from engaging in healthy behaviors that typically help manage stress. Make some time for yourself this holiday season, and try to find something that clears your mind and restores a feeling of peace. This could be as simple as taking a 10-minute walk, enjoying aromatherapy, listening to music, reading a book, or practicing diaphragmatic breathing. Remember, the holidays don’t have to be perfect. Traditions and rituals can change. Find ways to celebrate together without the excess stress.
Lastly, lend a hand and practice gratitude this holiday season. Researchers have shown that being kind to others releases “feel good” hormones. 1 Additionally, kind people experience more happiness and have happier memories.1 If you’re struggling to find happiness this season or simply not feeling like yourself, consider who could benefit from your generosity. This could be helping a friend move; volunteering at a local charity; or doing small, random acts of kindness, such as holding the door open for someone. Small acts can help you remember the true ‘reason for the season.’
Andy Williams calls this “The most wonderful time of the year” for a reason. Find what makes the holidays magical for you, whether it’s taking a moment for yourself, helping others, or showing your loved ones you care. Even the Grinch realized “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
By Amy Kurtz BA, BS, CI-CPT, Certified Health Coach Genesis PURE Wellness Education Specialist
Amy recently moved from Texas to the Pacific Northwest and is enjoying her first true fall, getting outside whenever the sun pokes through the grey clouds. Despite relocating, Amy is still a devoted follower of the Dallas Cowboys and Mavericks. She works out, takes deep breaths in yoga, and discovers new places to hike and shop on a weekly basis. Amy is passionate about nutrition, health and wellness and you can usually find her in a café with a warm glass of tea, researching and writing, helping others achieve their health goals. To help her power through the grey days the Pacific Northwest is known for, Amy loves an ENERGY stick pack mid-morning, She also adds Mila, GoYin, and Mangosteen to her morning smoothies.
- OTAKE, K. SHIMAI, S. TANAKA-MATSUMI, J. OTSUI, K. & Fredrickson, B. L. HAPPY PEOPLE BECOME HAPPIER THROUGH KINDNESS: A COUNTING KINDNESSES INTERVENTION, J Happiness Stud 7, 361–375 (2006).