Tis the season to be busy. Between the parties, shopping, traveling, cooking and general chaos, the holidays can quickly become overwhelming. Instead of enjoying the holiday season, many of us begin to dread the stress inducing season. What can we do to make the holidays more enjoyable and how can we take the hectic out of the holidays?
Gratitude. Scientific research has proven that implementing an attitude of gratitude into our regular routine changes the molecular structure of the brain. The simple act of practicing gratitude helps keep gray matter functioning in our brains, making us feel happier and healthier. When we feel good, the central nervous system is affected too. We are less reactive, less stressed, and less resistant to change. By focusing on staying grounded, holistic and realistic over the holidays, finding happiness comes at no cost.
As we begin to wrap up the decade, spend some time implementing the below tips to make the holiday season more enjoyable:
- Be realistic. Zig Ziglar said it best, “Money won’t make you happy, but everybody wants to find out for themselves.” Money is not the secret to happiness – it never has been and never will be. It’s difficult at times, especially around the holidays to not feel like you to have to spend every cent you have or go into debt to show your loved ones you care. Be realistic when creating your holiday budget and don’t spend what you don’t have.
- Invest in YOU: With all the hustle and bustle this time of year, make a concerted effort to carve out some time putting yourself first. Allow yourself some quiet time, turn off your screens, and just As hard as it can be to unplug and relax, spending even five minutes a day focused on what brings you joy can pay off and result in happiness dividends. Whether that’s journaling, going for a run, meditating, cooking a big family meal, stay mindful and present, you’ll be surprised the amount of gratitude you’ll feel.
- Reflect and connect: Instead of buying a gift, think about spending money on an experience that will fill your loved one’s emotional bank account. Whether that’s taking them to a Broadway play, or spending a weekend helping them sort through old possessions, often the gesture means more than the price tag. By creating memories rather than spending money, you are truly making an investment in gratitude – not only for yourself, but those around you.
- Be vocal. Consider who and what you are thankful for – and be vocal about it. Don’t assume people know how much you appreciate them. Too often, our favorite people don’t realize how much they mean to us. A simple phone call, note in the mail, or a text message can make a difference. You never know how one smile or compliment can positively affect someone’s day.
- Find the beauty in simplicity. Autumn leaves are still on the trees and we are already being bombarded with messages to spend, spend, spend for the holidays. Ignore the advertisements that urge you to find happiness in your next purchase, or paycheck. Instead, take time to reflect on the simple pleasures and find time to prioritize them. For myself, it’s a good night sleep, holding hands, and a nice hug.
An attitude of gratitude starts as an inside job. Once you’ve mastered the principles, share them with others! Make it a daily habit. It may take some initial effort and cultivation, but once you focus energy on it, you’ll find it’s easy to return to during the stress and hubbub of the holidays. Take a moment to reflect, rejoice, and reach out to rejoin the things and people you are grateful for.