The holiday season is in full swing. Signs of it greet us everywhere; decorations line the streets and fill the stores and Christmas music fills the air. While the holidays have a reputation for being a time of joy, for many people they are a source of increased stress or even depression. If you find yourself feeling less than joyous this holiday season and are wondering why, you’re not alone. Keep reading to better understand the sources of holiday stress and what you can do to improve your holiday experience.
Keeping track of positive events is a great way to improve your mood. Each day, make a list of every positive event that occurred that day. Nothing is too small to count for this exercise. Did you enjoy the weather? That counts! Did you hear a song on the radio that you really liked? That counts! Did you find your keys that you thought were lost? That counts!
Some people also like to think of this as counting their blessings or keeping track of what they have to be grateful for. Whatever you want to call it, add up those positives, and watch your mood improve!
Check out this article for more insights on the power of gratitude.
Have you ever noticed that your mind is rarely where you are? We're usually either thinking about what we've already done, what we plan to do, or what we wish we'd done differently. This can detract from truly experiencing your life, and can result in negative emotions. Try taking some time each day to be present in the moment. During this time, try to really focus on what you are doing. Notice all of the sensations you are experiencing. Try not to judge your experience. When you find your mind wandering, gently bring it back to the present. Try not to get frustrated by your wandering mind. Just notice it and move on. The more you practice, the less you'll find your mind wandering, and the easier it will be to be present in any given moment.
This practice, also known as mindfulness, can help you to feel more centered and help to manage negative emotions such as distress about the past or anxiety about the future. Research also shows that even short periods of daily mindfulness practice may lead to positive changes in brain structure. Click here for more information about how mindfulness positively impacts your brain and mental health.
People often "forget" to breathe when the are stressed or upset; they hold their breaths or breathe shallowly, reducing their blood-oxygen level. This can increase feelings of anxiety and tension and make it more difficult to manage the situation effectively. Next time you're faced with a stressful or upsetting situation, check to make sure you're not "forgetting" to breathe.
Two thumbs up for the Girl Scouts for fostering the emotional wellbeing of young women. Girls can earn a variety of badges, patches, and charms for engaging in activities that encourage knowledge, skill development, self-exploration, and healthy choices, all of which can positively impact emotional health. In the fall of 2011, they introduced the Science of Happiness badge.