How to Choose Joy this Holiday Season

5 Ways to Create a More Joyful Holiday Season

While most people look forward to the holiday season, others have difficulty managing all the associated stressors and family dynamics. While we can't control the behavior of others, we can make a conscious effort to embrace joy wherever we can find it. Here's how to cultivate a more positive mental outlook, so you can have a more joyful holiday season.

Give back. When we are overly focused on ourselves, we tend to experience less joy. On the other hand, when we focus on helping others, we tend to enjoy greater well-being. According to research, people experience less stress and anxiety when they participate in some form of volunteer work. What's more, other studies indicate that volunteering can actually provide physical health benefits that can prolong a person's life. If you aren't feeling particularly joyful this holiday season, look for ways to boost your well-being through altruism.

Get plenty of rest. We all know that poor sleep can make us feel run down, especially when we are struggling with holiday responsibilities. According to research, inadequate sleep can also promote stress and depression. What's more, insufficient sleep appears to worsen existing mental health issues, including chronic anxiety and bipolar disorder. When we are busy trying to make the holiday season special for loved ones, we sometimes neglect our personal well-being. Be sure to prioritize sleep so you will be more capable of embracing joy this holiday season.

Don't expect too much. More often than not, expectation sets us up for disappointment. In fact, you will usually find that acceptance tends to promote joy, while expectations tend to diminish it. Try to enjoy every moment as it comes and let go of any preconceived notions you may have about the perfect holiday season. Allow your friends and family to relax and be themselves. If something doesn't go as planned, try to move past it without letting it taint your overall perspective. Remember that perfection is an impossible goal, and joy is often found in the simplest moments.

Uncover the magic. Don't let television and Facebook tell you what the holiday season should be; make it personal for you and the ones you love. Center your holiday festivities and traditions around what matters most to you and your family. Ask your kids how they would like to spend the holidays. Whether it's building gingerbread houses or sipping hot chocolate in pajamas, simple moments can go a long way toward cultivating joy. Let go of all the big projects and simplify your outlook, leaving room for all the little things that combine to create a joyful holiday season.

Stay active. If you're trying to plan a perfect holiday season while juggling work obligations, you may feel you need to cut out non-essential activities. Whatever you do, avoid cutting back on your fitness routine. A mountain of research has shown that regular exercise can reduce depression and boost overall well-being. Again, you shouldn't disregard your needs while trying to make a happy holiday season for others. By keeping yourself fit and well-rested, you will be more capable of ignoring imperfections and focusing more on all the things that bring you joy.

Our caring therapists are here to help you develop a more positive outlook during the holidays and in the months and years to come. Contact us today!