So the tree has been trimmed, the Christmas cards have gone out to family and friends, and the gifts have been bought and wrapped. Or, maybe not. Maybe you've been so busy that the holidays just sort of snuck up on you. Either way, life has been challenging and you've had a difficult time feeling well, holiday-ish or Christmas-sy this year. I can very much relate. Don't get me wrong. The holidays are may favorite time of year. It's full of yearly traditions, yummy comfort foods, and a reminder to be appreciative of the life God has given me. But all too often, I can get preoccupied with achieving goals, or some other distraction that I lose focus on just being happy with me. When my private practice clients find it difficult to focus on aspects of their lives that bring them joy and happiness, I advise them to keep a journal or running list of the things that make them feel good throughout the day. This is an exercise consistent with cognitive-behavioral theory (the idea that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are connected, and can be altered) and places a focus on the positive rather than the negative. So with that, I share five last minute ideas that may inspire you to focus on the positive and get you in the holiday spirit. 1. Send Christmas/Holiday cards to neighbors you do not know well. Isn't this what the holiday is about anyway--being generous to others, and not just people we know? I actually got this idea from our new neighbor, "Mr. Ed." Being new to the neighborhood, I was pleasantly surprised to find that he had mailed (not just hand delivered) my family and I a Christmas card. So I figured I would not only return the gesture, but pay it forward by sending holiday cards to my other neighbors as well.
2. Get a holiday manicure. I'm all about the self-pamper with this one. When I feel good about how I look, I find it's much easier to get in the holiday spirit. Wouldn't you agree?
3. Window shop. If you've read some of my past posts, you know I'm a big window shopper. It is such a great way to get inspiration and prevents the occasional emotional purchase. And what better time to window shop than during the holidays when all the store windows are so beautifully decorated with colorful lights and lush greenery. You can't help but get in the holiday spirit when you see all that pretty.
4. Relax with your favorite thing to do during the holidays. I'm big on the hot chocolate with the holiday movie (see here). I rarely get a chance to watch television anymore, and watching tried and true favorites just feels relaxing to me.
5. Enjoy who or what you have. While we see countless images of happy families during the holidays, there are just as many people who may not have positive family experiences, and may experience anxiety or dread at the thought of reuniting with some members of their family during the holidays. This is why it is so important to appreciate family members, or even close friends, who are there for you. And if you feel you do not have anyone you can count on at this time, focus on giving back (by volunteering, or engaging in some act of kindness) to someone who may have less than you. You may be surprised at the act of kindness that is returned to you.
What are some things you like to do to get in the holiday spirit?
* All images by Truly blog.