Although the holidays can bring a sense of excitement and joy for many people, it can arouse feelings of sadness, stress and loneliness for others.  From the hustle and bustle of cooking, shopping, and entertaining, to the social engagements and often unrealistic expectations, “’tis the season” can generate a not so merry and bright feeling in the hearts of many.  Fortunately, there are things you can do to experience a holiday season that is more joyful, if you choose to do so.

Since our thoughts create our reality,  examine your thought patterns during this time.  You can choose to have different thoughts and feelings about the holiday season so that you rewrite the stories from your past and start to create new and happier memories.

If  triggers or patterns from your past keep you stuck and repeat themselves every year at this time, choose a different way of interacting. Before you simply react (as you have many times before), challenge yourself to see things differently.  Ask yourself, “What if I could see this situation from a different vantage point, more objectively or from the other person’s point of view.  Pay attention to what you are physically feeling and notice how your body is responding to the stressful or upsetting situation.  If possible, get to a place where you can close your eyes and do some deep breathing so you can get into your heart space.  From this space, it will be easier to work through your feelings and open yourself to see things with more empathy and compassion.

Recognizing that certain environments and people have triggered your reactions over the years should allow you the freedom to then embrace the fact that you can choose to have a different response this year, or participate for a shorter time.
Another way to ward off the holiday blues is to make sure you practice the art of extreme self-care.  What do you need to be happy “normally”?  Can give yourself a little extra?  More sleep, more time to be alone (or less), more exercise or perhaps a treat, like a facial or a massage, can work wonders.  Be very attentive to taking care of you.

If you’re missing your loved ones, the holiday season can be especially lonely. Be gentle with yourself.  Don’t stuff your emotions, allow yourself to feel them, even if they’re not comfortable. Be proactive by setting up a support system before the holidays. If you’re feeling down, don’t hesitate to support for yourself by reaching out to others.  You are not alone! There are plenty of people feeling the same way you are.

You can also boost your spirits by volunteering or being of service to others. Since giving and receiving are the same, you will feel better about yourself when you reach out to support other people.  And, if you find that memories of holidays past generate sadness, why not open yourself to finding new ways to celebrate by creating a different tradition?

Are finances a source of stress or anxiety this time of year? There are many ways you can give a meaningful gift without spending any money at all!  The gift of your time by running errands, babysitting or pet sitting, housecleaning etc, might be greatly appreciated by your loved ones.  You may be providing them with a solution to a problem that has been causing them stress!  These services can add up quickly so if they are short on funds, your gift would be most welcome.

Finally, it’s more important than ever during the holidays to set good boundaries.  It’s okay to say no to things that you don’t want to do.  Sure, some people may be disappointed but don’t feel guilty about choosing to do what would be the best for you.   After all, this is your holiday season too!

Give yourself the the gift of the extra time, attention and love you need and deserve this season so you can be relaxed and joyful… and enjoy your holidays!

© 2012 MarBeth Dunn.  All rights reserved.

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