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Peace, Gratitude and Cheer: Finding Happiness over the Holidays

Now that we're in the midst of the season, make this year a healthy and happy holiday by managing family expectations, letting the election go and avoiding debt.

I was so excited about Thanksgiving and the signs that Christmas was coming that I half-jokingly, half not, asked my husband if we should get out the Christmas tree this weekend. I’m just really looking forward to some peace, gratitude and holiday cheer.

I struggled during the past election because the turmoil and negativity was hard for me to cope with for so many months. Now that it’s over, hopefully neighbors are speaking to each other again and friendly hellos can be exchanged across political lines.

Let’s use this holiday season to heal any open wounds.

Whether it’s Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas shopping, stress, excitement, anticipation, crowded stores, endless to-do-lists, parties, and sometimes sadness and depression, all seem to encompass the holidays.

I was very impressed with writer Patty E. Fleener as she described some tips for “Surviving the Holidays.”

  • First, if you are feeling lonely and depressed during the holidays, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to “pretend” to be happy. Be around people who accept you for who you are and help you to feel better. 
  • Second, exercise has shown to improve mood so find an activity or routine that gets you moving
  • Finally, limit your alcohol consumption. While it may give you a temporary shift in mood, generally you won’t feel better after consuming large amounts of alcohol.

Fleener also gives some tips for people who not only want to survive the holidays but enjoy them:

  • She recommends sitting down with your family (and extended family) to go over what everyone hopes to get out of the holiday season. Getting everyone’s expectations on the table can help avoid hurt feelings and awkward moments.
  • In addition, keep in mind the tradition of your family while possibly being open to new ideas and holiday experiences. Change may be an added memory to your holiday experience. 
  • Lastly, if you enjoy the cleaning, baking, and decorating – go for it. If you don’t and it stresses you out, just do what you can and head to the store for your baked goods. Not everything has to be homemade.

USA.gov also gives some tips on having a happy and healthy holiday season starting with a budget and a sensible diet:

  • Don’t start 2013 off in debt because you’ve gone overboard on 2012 Christmas shopping. Plan ahead so that doesn’t happen. 
  • Make sure you monitor your portion control so that your 2013 New Year’s resolutions can be something other than losing the weight you just gained over the past two months. 
  • In order to save time and money, do some shopping online.
  • Lastly, give the gift of service. Find ways to help your friends, neighbors, and those who are in need of a little aid and cheer in their lives. It always feels good to give the gift of time and attention.

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