As expectations mount, the stress of the holiday season can dampen even the most well-intentioned spirit. It’s hard to feel festive when disappointment looms large. If you give yourself the gift of joy this season, it just might ripple to others in your circle and make the season brighter for both you and your loved ones. Here are five tips on how to practice joy from an assortment of sources:
Plan ahead. Approach the season with the intention of practicing joy.
In a recent Huffington Post article, Michael Thomas Sunnarborg suggests, “one solution is to find positive small ways to nudge us towards things that are more joyful than painful—more productive than destructive.”
Accept what you cannot change and reward yourself with time to recover.
In her Psychology Today article, Dora Calott Wang, M.D. prompts us to “simply accept what you can’t change—and know it won’t last forever. Enjoy what you can—and keep the end of it firmly in mind.”
She also suggests that you plan “a relaxing reward, and keep it in mind, through the holidays.” She takes it even further by adding, “after exhausting holiday celebrations with relatives, some families take a separate vacation on their own, to recover.”
Ditch the phone, remember what you already have, and truly connect with others.
Emma Sappälä Ph.D. tells Psychology Today readers, “ironically, stress reduces our ability to really connect with others empathically. As a consequence, we may be with other people, but not really forming any meaningful connections. You might still feel lonely in a crowd, or irritable or even sad.” She goes on to remind us that, “by focusing on what you can do for others, research shows you will not only be happier, but also healthier.”
One way to accomplish this, according to Sappälä, is to “take time off of work: When you notice your mind wandering and an itch to check your work email, take a deep breath and come back to the here and now. This is an opportunity to reconnect with the things you enjoy doing.”
Set realistic expectations and avoid feeling trapped.
In an article for Popular Science, California State University Psychology Professor, Pamela Regan, points out that “Sometimes, as we work through the discomfort of shifting familial roles (kids growing up, parents getting older), we snap back into old behavioral paradigms.”
In the same article, Terri Orbuch, a relationship expert and sociology professor at Oakland University, suggests the following:
- “…manage your expectations, to set realistic ones so that you don’t get frustrated or angry around the holidays.”
- “Keep the mood light, keep people laughing; you can guide the conversation to avoid topics that you know are stressful.”
- “…make sure you arrive at the gathering with your own method of transport so that you don’t feel trapped if you feel like you need to leave.”
Take a cue from the bible.
In his Psychology Today article, 3 Examples of Self-Care in the Bible, Steve Austin references the following biblical passage:
1, Jesus said, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:26-30 MSG
I wish you joy this holiday season. If you need a jump start, book a session with me and I’ll help you map solutions for the season.