I love writing this blog because I get a chance to talk with you about the things that make you feel at home. Usually, it’s fun, happy stuff that makes you smile and think. This week it’s a bit more serious. For all of us who’ve experienced stress or sadness over the holidays, I hope this helps. And if you know someone who might like this blog post, please share it.
Feeling sad or stressed over the holidays is like watching a party through a window. It seems like everyone is having a good time but you. So, what are the things you can do at home to help you feel good this holiday?
Invite people in. When I’m unhappy, I can be a champion homebody. But filling your home with the sounds of voices and laughter, the energy of other people, and reconnecting with the world can feel terrific.
- The recipe is easy: keep the plan simple, invite someone you like, and do something you enjoy. Have friends over for pizza and a movie marathon. Do a beer and wings run and watch the game.
- Start a new tradition. Host a tree-trimming party. Have a latke dinner. One of my best friends, who is Catholic, was married to a Jewish man for several years. After their divorce, she hosted an annual Hanukah dinner. None of us were Jewish but we loved eating brisket, playing dreidel games, and helping her build a new tradition.
- Make friends by helping others. If you’re new to the area, inviting people over can feel intimidating. But strangers can become friends when they share a purpose. Have people over to make holiday care packages for soldiers serving overseas or local kids in need.
Gratitude can be the key to happiness. Nothing about change is easy, even if it’s a change you wanted to make. But whether it’s changing holiday traditions, new family dynamics, or managing your expectations about the holidays, finding what you’re grateful for in difficult times can be transformative. What you focus on expands. If you concentrate on loss and disruption, it will be all you can see. If you push yourself to find the things you’re grateful for even when life is hard, you will start to see those things everywhere.
- My sister used her home to help her build a gratitude habit. She found a peaceful spot looking out her favorite window. Every morning, she goes there, sits in a comfortable chair, has a cappuccino (another key to happiness) and writes down the things she’s grateful for.
Let your kitchen help you be healthy. The holidays are challenging and stressful if you’re trying to build healthy habits. You’re surrounded by food you’ve been waiting to eat all year and it’s everywhere you look! But, there’s an easy way your kitchen can help and I’m not talking about putting celery sticks next to the cheesecake. That’s like bringing a knife to a gunfight. Let’s talk real alternatives.
- Think Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie has to be loaded with calories? Think again. Go to Cooking Light and find new versions of old favorites. You’ll never look back. Fill the table with food you love and won’t feel guilty about. (And for those holiday parties you’re going to? Come prepared. Bring a dish or two from your new recipe stash.)
Planning is my Prozac. Life can feel overwhelming on an average day. Then factor in holiday demands and activities and added stress is natural.
- I like to capture all my to-do’s in one place, so I don’t forget anything. Pick a wall you can’t miss. Tack up a big piece of paper or hang a dry erase board. Be religious about adding and crossing off so you know what’s coming and what’s done.
- Keep a post-it pad by your bed. Think of something at night? Write it down to get it off your mind. In the morning, stick the post-it on your to-do list.
No is powerful. We’re like fuel tanks. We’re all different sizes, but no matter how much energy you’ve got, it’s finite and you’ve got to choose how to use it. People are free to ask you for things and you’re free to say no. You don’t need to give them a reason, just smile, say, “thanks for asking, but no,” and move on. Will it feel weird at first? Probably. Will it feel amazing when you make it a habit? Definitely. Even if you want to do it all, you can’t run on fumes.
- Find a picture of yourself at a time you felt wonderfully happy. Put it next to your bed. This is your reminder that you want to feel this way all the time and saying no and setting limits can be a powerful tool to get there. When you hesitate to say no, remember that happy photo and just do it.
Acknowledge how you feel. It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s a critical step to feeling better. Maybe you’ve lost someone, maybe you’re far away from people you love, or maybe life is changing fast.
Whatever it is, you’re going through a tough time. And ignoring it is like standing in the water trying to hold back the waves. It’s exhausting and impossible. Let the waves crash over you. You’ll be wet, out of breath, and disoriented but you will dry off and be OK. Even if it takes a long time, you will be OK.
Accepting what you’re feeling and believing you’ll be all right frees you to do things that help you deal with what’s going on.
- If you’re missing family or friends, keep them with you when you’re at home by doing what they loved over the holidays. Cook their favorite foods, watch their favorite movies, and listen to their favorite music. It’s a beautiful way of remembering what brought them joy.
- Bring something home that brightens your day: Great music, a movie that makes you laugh, brightly colored flowers. Treat yourself. A little TLC when you’re having a hard time goes a long way.
If you need some help, you’re not alone. This is a hard time for so many people. If you can, ask for support from the people around you. And if you need professional support don’t hesitate to get it. Just remember: when you face the things that make you unhappy, it’s like waves crashing over you. You will get wet but you will be OK.
- Here’s a great place to start looking for the support you need.
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