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Ways to Keep "Happy" in the Holidays
by Tammy Cox, LMSW
- Decide what you want the holiday season to be like and write it down. Be specific and then set goals to make it happen.
- Be a child again. Play, laugh, fantasize, give in to silliness, be more spontaneous.
- View the holidays with a positive and expectant attitude. Monitor your self-talk.
- Take care of yourself! It is important to model this for your children. Exercise, eat & sleep well. Get a massage. Buy yourself something special or give yourself a gift of personal growth (a good book, motivational tape, sign up for a personal growth course) or join a gym or support group.
- Take action to deal with unresolved issues. Feelings of anger, grief, resentment and guilt tend to be exaggerated during the holidays. This is a good time to forgive yourself and others for past wrongs.
- Avoid holiday stress. Slow down and enjoy the process. Don't worry about things not getting done. Decide to play more and work less. Make people more important than things or events. Throw out old unfulfilling traditions. Share the load. If you don't get cooperation from others, assume it's not important to them and let it go. Stay in the present and enjoy the presents. Give gifts you enjoy giving or shopping for and find something to love about every gift you get.
- Learn how to say "no" without being a Grinch.
- Give gifts you can have fun making. Have a cookie-baking, T-shirt decorating, etc., party. Be creative. Encourage children to give gifts of their artwork, etc.
- Create new traditions. Give of yourself. Share the holidays with those who are alone or less fortunate. Trade baby-sitting with other families and when you have a house full of kids play with them and have fun. Include children in community service etc.
- Instead of spending so much time in shopping malls, give gifts that can't be bought in a store. A personal story, a poem or a letter of appreciation can be priceless. Give family heirlooms, gift certificates for personal services (like hair care or massage), theater tickets, IOUs for special favors for loved ones, magazine subscriptions, etc.
- Remove the price tags from love. For family gift exchanges agree on spending limits and stick to them and resolve to stay within your budget. Love has no price tag. If you can't be with loved ones, include them in your celebrations by telephone, or letters describing holiday events. Make audio or video recordings to send. Tell people you love what you love about them. Put it in writing. Tape record it. Give gifts from the heart (acceptance and unconditional love) to loved ones. Let children know that you love and accept them no matter what they feel, think, say or do. Don't let them think gifts determine their value.
- Take responsibility for your own holiday happiness. Avoid negative thoughts.
This article copyrighted by Tammy Cox, 2002
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