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How to Get Into the Holiday Spirit
When the holiday season seems anything but joyful, here are some tips to bring a little holiday spirit into your life.
Holiday decorations, music and festivities surround us this time of year. People are busy decorating, sending cards, buying presents, playing holiday music and attending holiday parties. What do you do if you are just not into the holiday spirit this year?
Of course, you can choose to ignore the holiday spirit around you, but are there other ways that you can rally...especially when you have family, children and friends looking to you to join them or lead the way?
I usually love the holiday season, yet this year I feel much more subdued. My father is undergoing cancer treatment and my mother is taking care of him. I am having a difficult time getting into the usual holiday spirit. However, I am also a mother of two young boys—10 1/2 and 12 years old—who really rely on mommy as the family social director, cheerleader and holiday planner.
I am trying to be kind and compassionate toward myself. It is okay if I am not the usual "over-the-top celebrator" this year. However, I do want to be a role model to my family and show them that I can still celebrate the holidays, feel gratitude and appreciation for them and likely have some enjoyment along the way.
Give yourself room to feel sad, grief, loss, disappointment, boredom or whatever you feel. And, then ask yourself, "What kind of holiday season do I want this year? Is there any way that I can motivate myself to get in the holiday spirit...even a little bit?" Use this list to get going on the right foot:
1. What are your favorite traditions or rituals? Do you have any holiday music that you enjoy? Tickets to the "Nutcracker" concert, holiday tea?
2. Adjust your expectations and commitments. Maybe you will just pick one or two events or festivities this year.
3. If you usually enjoy decorating or baking, consider a smaller commitment this year.
4. If finances are getting you down, consider the "gift of time." Spend time with people who love and care about you, rather than buy presents.
5. Spend time with your spouse. Ask friends to swap "babysitting" so you both can have date nights and support each other.
6. When I feel sad for myself, I find it very helpful to help others.
7. Consider volunteering at a church, synagogue or soup kitchen. What about helping at an animal shelter or visiting folks at a nursing home? Check out http://bit.ly/1Ofcc for lots of volunteer options. Many of them require little time commitment for meaningful reward.
8. Animal lovers can spend special time with your pet or offer to take care of a friend or co-worker's pet.
9. Plan some time appreciating nature or the outdoors.
10. Pick out a good novel that you have been wanting to read. Give yourself some time to luxuriate reading a good book.
11. Take the time to connect with people via phone and e-mail. Rather than isolate or withdraw, let people in your life know that you care about them even if you are having a hard time.
12. Focus on appreciation and gratitude. When you are feeling blue, think about one thing that you appreciate then go express that appreciation. When I am lacking holiday spirit, I still appreciate the smell of our tree and gingerbread house. And, hugging my sons while listening to holiday music can make me smile. Simple pleasures can go a long way to help get into the holiday spirit, especially if we accept that a little holiday spirit is enough.
Dr. Michelle Gannon is a psychologist specializing in relationships and women's issues. She has been in private practice in San Francisco for 20 years helping individuals and couples. She is also a founder of award winning Marriage Prep 101 Workshops for engaged, newlywed and seriously dating couples with her husband, Dr. Patrick Gannon. Marriage Prep 101 has been featured in local and national media including CBS Early Show," Evening Magazine," Ronn Owens Radio, "Time," San Francisco Chronicle, and many others. She blogs at www.DrMichelleGannon.com and www.MarriagePrep101.com. Dr Gannon lives in San Rafael, California with her husband, two sons, dog and cat.
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