Many view the holidays as being trapped in one huge stress bubble that threatens to explode at any moment. People may even find themselves poking through their medicine cabinets, looking for a dose of Advil to minimize a tension-induced headache.
As a result of all the strain, many resent what should be “the most wonderful time of year.”
In her article, How to Enjoy the Holiday Season Again, author Debbie Mandel discusses how the holidays may ignite stress, sadness and loneliness. Missing a loved one, for instance, only intensifies those feelings.
“You don’t have to accomplish the impossible, which is to forget your loss and your grief in order to be happy. Turn the loss into a triumph by strengthening your spirit and making yourself kinder and more compassionate,” Mandel says.
Mandel also argues that the holiday season is the perfect opportunity to be a “romantic and a healthy narcissist.” You can take the time to enjoy the simple gratifications, whether it may be gazing at beautiful window displays, creating spontaneous celebrations, singing carols, or admiring all the pretty lights, tinsel and mistletoe.
While it’s assumed this festive season perpetuates family conflict, the author notes that research from the University of Pennsylvania illustrates how increased community support and family gatherings during the holidays actually uplift the spirit.
April Durret’s article, Enjoying the Holiday Season, relays well-pointed advice from Larry Cammarata, PhD, a clinical and consulting psychologist and a mind-body wellness expert. He advocates that family connections are key for savoring this time of year — and isn’t that what this season is all about anyway?
“Spend time with the most important people in your life, especially those who offer you emotional support, caring and a good sense of humor,” he notes.
Finally, developing your own inner joy is another component of truly celebrating the holiday season. In “Enjoying the Holiday Season,” Mary E. Miriani, a personal trainer from Illinois, claims that one definitive way to decrease stress and make the most out of the holidays is to hone in on pure joy.
“As long as I smile at people and offer help when I can, I am giving joy,” she says. “Joy is always returned in the gratitude people feel. The power to enjoy the holidays resides in me and not in decorations, gifts or holiday meals. It is always with me whenever I choose to bring it up into my consciousness.”
Every year around Christmastime, I search for my Nsync holiday album (that ’90s boy band will always and forever have a special place in my heart) and head over to my aunt’s, where there is a cozy fireplace, a beautiful tree, and glasses of egg nog, cinnamon sticks and all. Every year, I also sit around a large table, filled with rich conversation, in celebration of Hanukkah, enjoying crispy potato latkes and other (really yummy) traditional dishes.
How do you plan to wholeheartedly enjoy the holidays this year?
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Debbie Mandel is author of Changing Habits: The Caregivers’ Total Workout and Turn on Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul. April Durrett, an IDEA contributing editor, is an award-winning health, fitness and lifestyle writer and editor.