The holidays are here, and they bring with them an abundance of twinkle lights, cookies, reflection, and joy. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right?
Yes. For some lucky people.
Perhaps this line from the Dr. Seuss’ book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, is a more accurate depiction of how you feel about Christmas: “Hate, hate, hate. Hate, hate, hate. Double Hate. LOATHE ENTIRELY!" The Grinch’s comments refer to his feelings for the Whos, and it quite accurately describes his feeling about the holidays.
Do you have an inner-Grinch who comes out this time of year?
Despite a time of joy, the holidays bring sadness for many. Feelings of grief and loneliness may rise to the surface. For me, this time of year reminds me of the loss I’ve experienced over the years. I miss my deceased father every holiday season, and I feel sadness about my failed marriage.
But you don’t have to stay stuck in sadness during the holiday sadness. Here are some simple tips to help you stay less Grinch-y and more positive this holiday season.
Self-compassion meditations and simple practices can help you gracefully navigate sadness and grief. By remembering the three main pillars of self-compassion (mindfulness, common humanity, self-kindness), you can stay attuned to your suffering with more grace and ease.
At the end of the day, write down three things for which you are grateful. Instead of the normal responses like my health and family, ratchet up the practice by looking back on your day and picking out specific highlights. For example, you could write, “I am grateful for the lunch and laughs I shared with my co-workers. We ate outside and enjoyed the crisp air and sunshine.”
3. Cultivate Joy
The human brain focuses on the negative, which means you need to intentionally cultivate more positivity in your life. It’s referred to as the brain’s negativity bias and research suggests that you need a three-to-one ratio of positive feelings to negative feelings in order to flourish.
One way to add more positivity is through self-affirmation. Take time each day to think of things you appreciate about yourself. A gratitude practice also infuses your day with positivity.
4. Minimize Social Media Consumption
If you’re regularly (obsessively?) checking your Facebook and Instagram feeds, try to bring awareness to how you’re feeling. Do you notice sadness, uneasiness, or any tightness? Your mind might be comparing your life to the lives you see online. Since most people only highlight their best moments on social media, you are most likely not getting the full picture of someone’s life. Comparing your normal, flawed life to one that appears to be perfect is a recipe for sadness.
Try putting your phone down more often and staying off of social media. Notice if any of your feelings shift.
5. Find a Holiday Accountability Buddy
Do you know someone else who has experienced loss or has a tough time during the holidays? If so, reach out to that person and see if you can lean on each other every day. Send this person a quick text once a day to check in, and he or she can do the same for you.
You might want to use this accountability as a way to start or enhance your daily gratitude practice.
6. Take Deep Breaths
If a formal meditation practice isn’t your style, you can experiment with a brief breathing practice to help you bring awareness to the moment and calm yourself. Research shows that by taking a big, slow, deep inhale, and then exhaling slowly, you can calm your body’s response to stress.
7. Practice Generosity
While it is said that, “it is better to give than to receive,” you might not feel this around the holidays. The added expenses and overall stress that comes with holiday gift-giving might make you feel like giving is not the best way to get out of your Grinch-y attitude.
True, heartfelt generosity doesn’t equate to stress, however. You can be generous with your time, your hugs, your smile, and your listening ear. If you do have extra funds, you can support nonprofits who might rely on end-of-year giving to support their work.
Speaking of nonprofits, many of them can use an extra hand during the holidays. The need for many services may increases during the winter months. Find a nonprofit in your community that needs help and spend some time serving your community.
Because of your compassionate feelings, you just might feel a boost. Try out some of these techniques and send your inner Grinch into hibernation this winter.