Finding Joy in the Holidays

“Joy to the World” or  “Bah Humbug”? Most of us feel a little bit of both this time of year. Busy, hectic lives have become a norm in our culture. When the extra duties of the holidays are added, it can feel downright stressful, depleting the joy out of what could be otherwise be sweet and pleasurable. Another paradox of the season is that within the hustle and bustle of gatherings and activities, some of us may feel quite alone, with the “Season of Joy” highlighting our own sad feelings. The American Psychology Association explores holiday stress in further depth here: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/12/holiday-stress.pdf

Here at Nature Cures Clinic, we see the effects of stress on our patients every day and the bottom line is that stress makes everything worse: The brain does not function well, the physical body suffers in so many ways, and it becomes difficult to be emotionally present.

Right now, in the crux of the busyness, what can we do to manage our stress and maximize our joy?

Practice cognitive flexibility – Focus on one task at a time and let the rest go. Psychologists call this “shifting set”. “Shifting set is a type of executive functioning, a set of mental skills that helps us get things done. These skills include managing time, being attentive, switching focus, planning and organizing, and remembering details.” (Edwards, S. APA newsletter, 2006).

Maintain healthy habits – Even though you are outside of your normal routine during this season, try to stick with at least some of these good practices. . When you can’t or don’t choose to do so, enjoy it the best you can!

Get outside! Fresh air really is good for you. Even a short walk every day gets the blood flowing and lifts the spirits.

Focus on connection and relationships – The real heart warmers of the holiday season! Research shows a strong causality of social support on improved health outcomes. In this season of cold and darkness, let your little light shine!

  • Call up that old friend.
  • Give gifts of togetherness (invitation for a concert, for example) instead of things.
  • Skip the big party and snuggle up for a movie with your loved ones instead.
  • Extend that olive branch. Make that date for which you’ve been too busy.

Set intention for the New Year – Utilize the natural rhythm of the seasons to your advantage by looking inward and discovering how you wish to improve yourself. Make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, T And if your goals relate to your health, we are here to help! Perhaps you can join Dr. Eckel this January in a New Year Detox?

For more ideas on how to mitigate the Season of Stress (*Ahem* I mean, JOY), check out these tips from the Mayo Clinic:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544

Wishing you at Joyful and Stress-free Holiday Season!

Linda Anzalone, WHNP, and the team at Nature Cures Clinic

References

http://neuro.hms.harvard.edu/harvard-mahoney-neuroscience-institute/brain-newsletter/and-brain-series/holiday-stress-and-brain. Retrieved 12-12-17.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544. Retrieved 12-12-17.

https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/12/holiday-stress.pdf. Retrieved 12-12-17.