Not feeling too cheerful this holiday season?
We all know that some people aren’t feeling particularly cheerful this holiday season. Perhaps you are in that same boat. Recession. Poor health. Bad breaks. Family frustrations. Maybe it isn’t even you—but you are constantly surrounded by doom and gloom such that you feel that you have to be (as one of my friends confided in me) “the proverbial daisy popping through the cement sidewalk for all.” Whatever your specific frustration, the holiday music reminding listeners of white snow and the commercials demanding that you buy the latest gadget are probably not helping.
So how are you supposed to bring cheer to the cheerless…especially if you’re the one who just wants to say “Bah Humbug?”
(1) Reach out to those who put a smile on your face: While you may not be able to leave your frustrations behind, you can catch a little time on the phone, on skype, or even in person with one of your favorite friends. Sometimes the temptation is to block out all cheerful people to wallow in your own challenges but this will leave you in the same place you are in now. You don’t really want to feel this bad, do you? It is true that when you surround yourself with positive people, you feel more positive yourself…even if it is just for a little while.
Ask yourself; Who makes me feel good?
Pitfalls to watch: Going to someone who used to make you feel good but is now a toxin in your life. Going to someone who doesn’t make you feel good but asking them to do it anyway. Telling yourself you don’t need anyone.
(2) Grant a wish: Helping others can take you up a notch. Whether you know of a friend who has fallen on hard times and can’t afford a holiday gift for her child or you know of a military family in town who could really use a home cooked meal, volunteering and charity might be just what the doctor ordered. There is even a charity service called Wish Upon A Hero where you can grant wishes for others right in your area or around the US. There is something about helping others that can really help yourself too.
Ask yourself; who can I help?
Pitfalls to watch: Getting sucked into someone else’s problems and taking it on as your own. Spending hours reading about the problems in the world and actually taking no action.
(3) Treat yourself to something you love: Whether it’s taking a trip to the park, a walk with a friend, a massage, a hair cut, or even whipped cream on your hot chocolate, do something that feels good to counter the bad. Perhaps this is the time you take the drive to see your old friend. Maybe going south for the weekend would give you a little refuge from your current situation. A movie? Night out with friends? Reading your favorite book again? No doubt you have favorite things—break ‘em out.
Ask youself: What helps me to feel good?
Pitfalls to watch: Spending money you don’t have. Putting off treating youself.
(4) Ask for help: Sometimes we feel like we’re on our own little island. We have so much to do and we can’t catch a break. Is this really the truth? Or is there something—anything—that someone else can do to help you out. Maybe it’s having a friend babysit for 2 hours so you have coffee out with a friend—or having a classmate’s mother pick up your child from school so you can go to the gym. Maybe it’s having someone come over at night to be there while your elderly mother sleeps so you can go shopping with your sister while having peace of mind. Perhaps it’s asking a neighbor if they could put leftovers aside for you one night so you don’t have to cook. These are little things. They really aren’t a big deal—but they may mean a few moments of sanity for you.
Ask yourself; who can I ask for help?
Pitfalls to watch: Not seeing that help may be right in front of you. Making excuses that keep you from asking for help.
(5) Do things that make you laugh: We have all heard that laughter is the best medicine. What brings you to tears…in a good way? A hilarious book? A funny movie? A new comic on TV? Maybe you just need to hang around with your 2 year old niece who literally says the darndest things or your uncle who never censors what goes through his head. These are all little bits of medicine we can give to ourselves to relieve some of the stress and tension that is building…and building…and building.
Ask yourself; What makes me laugh? What were the last few things that made me laugh so hard I cried?
Pitfalls to watch: Wallowing in self pity. Telling yourself you don’t deserve to laugh or be happy.
(6) Get out: Get out of your room. Get out of your house. Get out of town! Sometimes changing the scenery, even if it’s just for the day, can give you a difference perspective. Or some distance. Or a refuge. Don’t know where to go? Sometimes it doesn’t matter much. But I would say somewhere that gives you peace. Open space. Beautiful views. The park. The beach. The mountains. Or towards someone who adores you (see number 1)—a friend, a sibling, an older relative that would just plotz to pieces with joy that you came for a visit. You could use a little plotzing with delight. (Note: To plotz means to collapse from surprise or excitement).
Ask yourself; Where can I go? What place makes me feel at ease? Where can I go that makes me feel happy?
Pitfalls to watch: Telling yourself you haveno way to get out, nowhere to go and no way of getting there. Where there is a will there is a way.
(7) Move your body: Walk. Run. Ski. Work out. Turn on the music and dance. There is nothing that can change a mood like a great piece of awesome music. Turn it up and be a fool. You can even break out the air guitar if you’ve got the notion. Ask some friends to join you. You might be surprised how many people could really use a good jig in the middle of the holiday season.
Ask yourself; What physical thing do I love to do?
Pitfalls to watch: Laziness, lethargy due to feeling sad or depressed.
Now I know what some of you are doing. You are making excuses. Shall we list a few? I don’t really want to see people…I want to stay in bed (get into my pjs, cry by myself, bury myself in a bowl full of rocky road icecream…) I don’t want to laugh. I hate asking for help. There’s nobody to ask for help. Everyone has their own problems…
Now stop it. That’s not helping at all. It may not be easy but the choice itself is quite simple. Commit to doing at least 1 of the 7 tips above. Today. If you are feeling really ready to make a change, commit to doing 2 or 3 or more. Then go do them. People often quote Mahatma Gandhi “Be the change you want to see in the world”but it has to start with you. So be the change you want to see in yourself. You can do it. All you need to do is take the step and have a little faith in yourself. You deserve it. You really do.
Happy Holidays, my friends. Peace, joy, and love.