With its hustle and bustle, the holiday season may not always be merry and bright. Between shopping and baking and hosting, this time of year can cause plenty of stress and anxiety. The Calli Institute wants to help curb any pressure with these tips to brighten the holiday. We hope our simple ideas for a more joyous season will help you relax and feel the magic.
Festive, twinkling lights are a sure sign of the holidays. They bring back memories of childhood and can actually make us happy. Looking at holiday lights helps trigger the release of dopamine, a “feel good” chemical messenger released by the brain. So, the joy we get from seeing lighted trees and homes is real.
Look for holiday light displays in your area or load up the car and go for a drive. Marvel at the colors and patterns and decorations in your neighborhood or around town. If your city decorates its downtown area for the holiday, take a stroll through the main drag and soak in the festive cheer.
Holiday festivals are another idea. Citywide celebrations are a good way to get out and share the magic of the season with others. Many of these events, like the Glow Holiday Festival or Holidazzle, feature a number of fun and family friendly holiday events, snacks, activities, and of course lights!
Choose a few favorite holiday books and spend time reading them together with family. Cozy up to the fireplace and page through “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” or “Hanukkah Bear” or “The Polar Express.” Maybe take turns reading to get everyone in the family involved in the action.
If you don’t have a favorite holiday book, you can create your own holiday story or adventure. One person begins the tale and passes the action to the next family member (or friend) to continue. Act out the scenes to bring this story to life and see what kind of festive fun your group can imagine.
Turn on some holiday music and spend a day in the kitchen baking seasonal treats. Get help from family or friends for added laughs. Make and decorate Christmas cookies, whip up sweet or savory Kwanzaa dishes, or treat yourself to some delicious Hanukkah desserts. If you’d like, share your delights with others to spread holiday cheer.
Gather old photographs and use them to create a nostalgic photo album. Share memories of each captured moment while piecing together the pages.
If printed pictures aren’t your thing, you can upload images to sites like Shutterfly and create a memory book with digital photos. Save your photo album for yourself or order extras to give as gifts to family members.
A good way to feed your soul and help others this season is to donate. Whether it’s wish list items or your time, giving to others helps us feel happier and healthier by boosting our well-being and sense of purpose.
Spread kindness during the holidays by donating to Toys for Tots campaigns or food drive initiatives. Check in on elderly neighbors who may need assistance with simple chores or even a friend to talk to during the winter months. Donate books to schools or your local library.
Volunteering efforts are always welcome and doing so improves mental and physical health. Check with local nonprofits like animal shelters, food banks, veterans’ organizations, and more to see where and how you can help. Get involved as a group with family, friends, or co-workers. Working with and helping others offers a sense of pride and fulfillment.
Get some snacks and cocoa and have a fun night with family and/or friends. Get your group together for board games or card games. Or piece together a holiday puzzle while sharing stories and laughter.
Maybe throw a pajama party and invite friends over to watch holiday movies. Spending time with friends provides a sense of belonging and helps ward off loneliness in an environment that promotes relaxation.
No matter how you choose to enjoy the season, remember to appreciate the little things. Take time — for your time. Soak in the camaraderie, friendship, and laughs. Be in the moment and let your mind and heart rejoice in the happiness.
These are only a few tips to brighten the holiday, but we hope they’ll help you have a more joyous season. If you still feel overwhelmed or anxious and need a friend to talk to, please know that our team at The Calli Institute is here. Feel free to reach out to us and begin your journey toward wellness, self-empowerment, and a happy heart.