Category Archives: Holidays

Combat Stress, Meet New Friends, and Reduce Isolation by Giving Back This Holiday Season

By Jennifer Scott, www.spiritfinder.org

xmas

Do you often choose feel stressed and anxious over the holidays? Purchasing and wrapping gifts, worrying about money, planning and attending parties, preparing meals, decorating, and more leave many people choosing to overwhelm, exhaust, stress, and even depress in an attempt to cope. If stressing, depressing, or anxietying are getting you down this year, why not a take a different approach and volunteer. Here are just a few compelling reasons to consider volunteering as a way to beat the holiday stress while giving back and improving your Mental Health & Happiness.

Volunteering Cultivates Social Skills Development

If spending time alone over the holidays leaves you feeling down and out, volunteering is the perfect fix. Offering plenty of opportunities for socialization, volunteering with a charity that has meaning to you will help you meet new people with similar interests.

Donating your time and energy to people or animals in need can help you overcome the challenges of meeting new people by connecting you with others who are working toward the same goal. Volunteering can even help people who are shy or otherwise struggle with social situations become more comfortable around new people by providing a common ground for initiating conversations.

Gain Professional Experience through Volunteerism

In addition to social skills development, volunteering can also provide networking opportunities that could benefit you professionally. If you’re volunteering for an organization in the same field as your ideal career, you might connect with leaders in the field who can help you land a coveted role in your chosen field.

At the very least, it serves as a valuable resume-booster that can help you advance in your current company or explore new opportunities. So, if finances are a source of stress for you around the holidays, volunteering your time won’t cost you a thing, but it might help you land a better-paying job.

You Can Choose a Cause Close to Your Heart

There are ample ways to donate your time and energy to the greater good this holiday season, meaning that you can choose a cause that’s close to your heart, making the experience all the more meaningful. If a friend or loved one has been given the gift of life thanks to blood donations, consider finding a local blood drive and donating blood in honor of them.

Maybe you’ve benefited from the love and companionship of a service dog, and have a desire to help the animal community. There are thousands of animal shelters all over the country always in need of volunteers to help raise funds and help care for the animals, as well as supplies such as food, treats, and cat litter. If you enjoy spending time with older adults, volunteer to take therapy animals for visits to your local senior living communities.

Volunteering Keeps You Busy

With so many volunteer needs during the holiday season, you can easily fill up your holiday calendar and take your mind off of your stress with plans to help people in need. If you’re not typically a social butterfly who has dozens of invitations to every holiday gathering in a 50-mile radius, there’s no reason to spend a single evening home alone when there are so many ways to get out and about in your community while helping others in need.

Anyone can keep their social calendar filled with meaningful activities by volunteering to help prepare meals for the homeless, offering companionship to homebound seniors, or spending time with older adults at a local senior center or senior living community. Socialization is crucial for the wellbeing of older adults, so these activities are mutually beneficial.

Volunteering helps to put meaning back into the season for those who feel stressed and exhausted, lonely, or depressed over the holidays. From meeting new people and staying busy, offering opportunities for socialization and networking, volunteering provides many benefits, but nothing beats the feel-good vibes you get from doing something selfless for someone in need.

Christmas Memories

By Brian Patterson

Kids in footie pajamas; frozen windshields and slippery roads; anxiety about how visitors would judge our house and gifts. These are some of my memories of Christmases past when we lived in the Midwest and had a different perspective on life.

canstockphoto1360199Last night, my wife and I hosted the family of our grown children (no footie pajamas) and my in-laws. The house was decorated nicely- with our eclectic style- and there was very little hint of the anxiety which used to pervade these events. We had chosen to go out to eat our evening meal and then go to our house for gifts, desserts and coffee. We have found it mentally healthy to change some traditions so we can enjoy the holidays and people more and worry less about being judged.

 

I used to feel that I should hand out Olympic-style score cards to everyone as they entered so we could average the scores and see how well we had done. For days, my wife would be frantically preparing and resenting me (or so it felt) for not being involved enough! During the event she was so concerned that everyone else was happy she could not allow herself that same privilege. Afterwards, she would vow to never ‘celebrate’ Christmas again.

The difference between those Christmases past and the more recent ones has been a growing understanding of how our brains work to meet our own needs and how to meet those basic psychological needs in different ways. We know now that we are not built like anyone else and we can meet our own needs in our own ways without duplicating the efforts of others. This has made us less judgmental and coercive and has improved all of our relationships.

Our mental health and happiness is our own responsibility. Knowing this has helped us to eliminate misplaced dependencies and unrealistic expectations. Others are not here to serve and satisfy us but to accompany us on this beautiful journey of life.

This website, www.mentalhealthandhappiness.com, has more insights into how others can discover the same peace at Christmas.

Happy Holidays from Around the World

by Wendall Walker, WGI FacultyMember

Hi, there,

I highly recommend that you check out this video. Fun ! Surprised smile Energizing ! Star Colorful ! Rainbow Diversity at its best ! Left hug Right hug Over 80 fast-moving video clips of people from different countries around the world, dancing to happy music ! NoteNote A five-minute “dose of happy” for you and me. Watch it a second time to see how many locations you recognize, or have been to. Music, dancing, and sports seem to supersede international borders, cultures, ideologies. Thanks to this fellow, Matt, for producing this outstanding video. (see credits at the end of the video) Thanks to Bob Coady for sending it my way. Click on the You Tube link, at the bottom of this email.

The timing on this international video made it the right time for me to send out my annual, multicultural holiday greetings. I hope you have a good holiday season, and my best to you for a karma-enhancing year in 2016.

International/Multicultural Holiday Greetings

Happy Holidays
Merry Christmas
Feliz Navidad (Spanish)
Happy Hanukkah (Jewish)
Kwanzaa Greetings (African)
Joyeux Noel (French)
Wesolych Swiat (Polish)
God Jul and Gott Nytt (Swedish)
Buon Natale (Italian)
Boldog Karacsonyi Unnepeket (Hungarian)
Frohliche Weihnachten and Frohe Fettage (German)
La Multi Ani (Romanian)
Ilusad Joulu Puhi (Estonian)
Veseli Praznitci (Bulgarian)
Nollaig shona dhuit (Irish Gaelic)
Nollaig Chridheil (Scots Gaelic)
Jilgohun-Christmas-Bonoseyo (Korean)
Happy New Year
С Рождеством (Russian)

There ARE happy people out there, all around the world!   Not everyone is fighting & killing one another!

This is one of the happiest videos that you may ever view. It’s a great production! I hope you dance!

Turn sound on and up!  Go fullscreen.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Pwe-pA6TaZk?rel=0

Lonely Holidays

By Dr. Ken Larsen

“Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on the desert air.”
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray  1751.  

For me this verse struck me with sadness from the very first time I heard it.  As life has unfolded I see evidence of the many unseen flowers trapped in the loneliness of our culture.

We all know those who are lonely, most of us have been there ourselves.  When I’m in that place I find mental health and happiness more elusive.

kid_catI think the holiday season afflicts many of us as we look to the fabricated images of people enjoying the holiday season and then realizing that our own lives don’t often match those fabrications.

I recently had some major surgery and was feeling lonely and a bit sad because of the forced inactivity of recovery.   Then the phone rang.  It was a call from a friend who is a media personality in her part of the world.  What touched me and actually sent a jolt of joy through me is that she took the time to call and tell me she was thinking of me.  This simple act of friendship and kindness changed the color of my day from blue to rosy red.

helpinghands2A call, a note, a smile,  a friendly touch are all very welcome to us when we are feeling unseen and out of touch.  Let’s reach out and brighten the day of someone we know or someone we don’t know to give them the boost they may need to reconnect with their mental health and happiness.

 

Gratitude, the gift you give yourself

Contributed by Denise Daub

How Gratitude Can Benefit Your Physical Health All Year Long

by Lindsay Holmes Healthy Living Editor, The Huffington Post

canstockphoto2744335Now that we’re officially in the holiday season, generosity and gratitude reign supreme. We’re altruistic because we’re motivated at this time of year to support others who are less fortunate, and we express thanks for those who have extended similar kindness to us.

And honestly, why wouldn’t we want to tap into this sort of holiday spirit? Both generosity and gratitude have an incredible influence on our emotional health. When we practice them, we’re happier, more optimistic and have a lower risk for depression and anxiety. New research also shows that gift giving reflects how we feel about others and could give more insight into how we maintain relationships.

Yet, somehow, we really only concentrate on the benefits when the year winds down. Bah-humbug.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gratitude-benefits-physical-health_56538058e4b0879a5b0c1464?ir=Healthy%2BLiving%253Fncid%253Dnewsltushpmg00000003

Happy Thanksgiving

Contributed by Denise Daub

Thanksgiving and the Art of Happiness

By Leeann Rooney November 15th, 2014

They say that happiness is a choice. That in order to ‘practice’ happiness, everyone should try to recognize the blessings that surround them, be it family, friends, good weather or simply a great cappuccino.

With that in mind, surely there is no better time to be conscious of your own happiness, than Thanksgiving!

Read more…https://www.pennyowl.com/thanksgiving-art-happiness/

For some, the holidays are the loneliest time of the year

By Dr. Ken Larsen

“Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on the desert air.”
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray  1751.  

For me this verse struck me with sadness from the very first time I heard it.  As life has unfolded I see evidence of the many unseen flowers trapped in the loneliness of our culture.

We all know those who are lonely, most of us have been there ourselves.  When I’m in that place I find mental health and happiness more elusive.

kid_catI think the holiday season afflicts many of us as we look to the fabricated images of people enjoying the holiday season and then realizing that our own lives don’t often match those fabrications.

I recently had some major surgery and was feeling lonely and a bit sad because of the forced inactivity of recovery.   Then the phone rang.  It was a call from a friend who is a media personality in her part of the world.  What touched me and actually sent a jolt of joy through me is that she took the time to call and tell me she was thinking of me.  This simple act of friendship and kindness changed the color of my day from blue to rosy red.

helpinghands2A call, a note, a smile,  a friendly touch are all very welcome to us when we are feeling unseen and out of touch.  Let’s reach out and brighten the day of someone we know or someone we don’t know to give them the boost they may need to reconnect with their mental health and happiness.

 

Keep the “Happy” in the Holidays

Contributed by Denise Daub

6 Tips to a Merry and Bright Holiday Season

canstockphoto2744335Throughout the year we look forward to the holidays and imagine our days filled with warm feelings of comfort and joy. Until… reality quickly slaps us in the face and we succumb to the stress of the season.

Who has time to sip cocoa by the fire when there are cards to send, gifts to buy, parties to plan, and houseguests to host? This holiday season, let’s resolve to stay calm. Here are six tips to keep the “happy” in the holidays.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diane-gottsman/holiday-etiquette-six-tips-to-a-merry-holiday_b_6212210.html

Unwrapping a Psychological Gift

By Brian Patterson

Kids in footie pajamas; frozen windshields and slippery roads; anxiety about how visitors would judge our house and gifts. These are some of my memories of Christmases past when we lived in the Midwest and had a different perspective on life.

canstockphoto1360199Last night, my wife and I hosted the family of our grown children (no footie pajamas) and my in-laws. The house was decorated nicely- with our eclectic style- and there was very little hint of the anxiety which used to pervade these events. We had chosen to go out to eat our evening meal and then go to our house for gifts, desserts and coffee. We have found it mentally healthy to change some traditions so we can enjoy the holidays and people more and worry less about being judged.

 I used to feel that I should hand out Olympic-style score cards to everyone as they entered so we could average the scores and see how well we had done. For days, my wife would be frantically preparing and resenting me (or so it felt) for not being involved enough! During the event she was so concerned that everyone else was happy she could not allow herself that same privilege. Afterwards, she would vow to never ‘celebrate’ Christmas again.

The difference between those Christmases past and the more recent ones has been a growing understanding of how our brains work to meet our own needs and how to meet those basic psychological needs in different ways. We know now that we are not built like anyone else and we can meet our own needs in our own ways without duplicating the efforts of others. This has made us less judgmental and coercive and has improved all of our relationships.

Our mental health and happiness is our own responsibility. Knowing this has helped us to eliminate misplaced dependencies and unrealistic expectations. Others are not here to serve and satisfy us but to accompany us on this beautiful journey of life.

This website, www.mentalhealthandhappiness.com, has more insights into how others can discover the same peace at Christmas.