Making Holidays Happy and Merry When You Aren’t

By Madis Senner

The holidays can be a stressful period especially if you are dealing with a breakup, a loss, an illness or loneliness. Here are some of things that I have found that may help you feel chipper.

Nature Walk
Take a walk in the woods at a county, or state park. Psychiatrist Carl Jung said that when we get too much civilization all we need to do is take a walk in the woods; because, “whenever we touch nature we get clean.” The affects of Mother Earth are undeniable, from reducing stress and anxiety to making us more creative and happy. As Thoreau said the wilderness truly is a tonic.

Laugh Yoga
Have yourself a good laugh. Stretch your arms above your head and bend over as if you were going to touch your toes. Then as come back up laugh, really laugh hard as you spread your arms above your head. Even if you are in no mood to laugh, force yourself to laugh. As a yoga teacher once told me, if you can fake it, you can make it. Do several sets. After my uncle died I used to visit my aunt in her nineties and do laugh yoga with her to lift her spirits and break her loneliness. It always cheered her up and put a smile on her face.

Give Thanks
Giving thanks is an old Native American tradition, especially at Thanksgiving time. Find something good in your life and give thanks for it. If you struggle to find something good to give thanks for consider saying thanks to Mother Earth for the air and water. Or thanks for your meal today, or the clothes on your back. Over time giving thanks builds gratitude and appreciation in us and helps lift your mood.

Pray for Others
Praying for others does not need to be a religious thing. Just say help John, or help Joan, or help a politician, or help someone that is ill. Among other things this powerful technique will help you get out of your own head and shift the focus from thinking about yourself to thinking about others. I use this daily to help me from being judgmental of others. When I see someone I just say help him, or her. Praying for others will help you become more emphatic. It is a powerful tool with numerous benefits and uses.

Dwell on a Moment of Happiness
When you experience a moment of happiness during the day dwell on it. Savor it. Reflect on it. Spend a few minutes prolonging the experience. Neuropsychologist and meditation teacher Rick Hanson in his New York Times bestseller Hardwiring Happiness advocates what he calls ‘self-directed neuroplasticity’ by focusing and dwelling on positive experiences throughout the day. By taking in the good experiences and dwelling on them we begin to rewire out brain (neuroplasticity) and start to develop the sense to see the positive in everything. We begin to become increasingly happier.

Pick something positive you want in your life and repeat it throughout the day. Such as, “I am happy. I am so lucky. Things are looking up …” There a ton of webpages online with a variety of affirmations to help you if needed. Even if you don’t believe your affirmation at first; remember, if you can fake it, you can make it. Repetition is the key. The New Thought Movement is based on positive thinking and the transformative power of our thoughts. As we think, so we become.

Digital Detox
Take a holiday from your cell phone and social media. You will find yourself thinking more, feeling peaceful, being better able to connect with the people around you and having time for reflection.

Learn to meditate. Meditation exercises your mind. Over time you will develop the ability to better control your thoughts. Meditation has been found to reduce anxiety and stress and make you happier. People that meditate even deal with physical pain better.

Try to put forward the positive this Holiday Season even if you aren’t feeling it. Remember, if you can fake it, you can make it.

Madis Senner is an author who lives in Syracuse. You can read his musings at, His latest book is Sacred Sites in North Star Country: Places in Greater New York State (PA,OH,NJ,CT,MA,VT,ONT) That Changed the World is available at Amazon and at the Dogged Ear in Palmyra, NY

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