The holiday season is the time to rejoice, reunite, relax and reflect. Many of us worry about expensive gifts, epic cook-offs, eating too much and moving too little and forget about the most valuable principles of Christmas.
Never underestimate the value of having fun. One of the best things about Christmas is we become more sociable and celebrations are a plenty. According to research from the American Psychological Association, being happy can have as big an impact on your life as giving up smoking or taking regular exercise. The festive period provides us with an ideal opportunity to talk to, visit or engage with the people around us. Face-to-face communication has been shown to improve our mental and physical well-being as this interaction produces the feel good hormone, oxytocin, which can benefit our immune system, heart health and cognitive function.
Sing, dance and be merry! For those that spend their working days chained to a desk, Christmas festivities are a great excuse to get you up on your feet. Singing and dancing give you freedom and happiness. You can release your inhibitions with an opportunity for self-expression and create lots of positive emotions. So turn up the tunes, join in with the carol singers and rock around the Christmas tree like no one's watching (because they’re all doing it too!).
Granted, at Christmas time, most of us overindulge, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Festive treats aside, take a moment to think about the components of our Christmas dinner. Nearly half of your plate is made up of antioxidant rich vegetables including carrots, turnips, parsnips and the anti-social reputation of the humble Brussels sprout will help you meet your daily Vitamin C and K needs in just one serving. Even if you normally struggle to reach your 5-a-day, you’ll likely exceed that recommendation on Christmas day. Roast Turkey, lean and rich in tryptophan, the protein your brain needs to produce the happiness hormone serotonin combined with cranberry sauce, high in fibre and low in fat - what are you worried about?
The average family manages just 36 minutes of quality time together per day, with hectic work schedules, after school activities, chores and child care, there is little time for family fun. For most, Christmas dinner is that chance to sit down at the dining table, eat together and catch up on lost time, which in turn allows us to take time over our food meaning we make more nutritious choices and avoid mindless overeating.
The gift of giving, but not it the traditional sense. We live in a world that seeks personal gain, even encourages it. And as a result, we want to make sure the things we receive are equal to the gifts that we give. Christmas is not about how many presents are under the tree, or spending excessive amounts of money on the latest gadgets to win the heart and respect of a loved one. We can bring joy to many lives by offering love, peace, hope and goodwill. Christmas is a season of love—a celebration of sacrificing what we have to show appreciation to those who mean the most. And while expressing love to another may be the most beautiful thing we can ever do, it can also be one of the most difficult—especially when those who should love us the most withhold it. True love is not self-seeking. It keeps no record of wrongs and demands nothing in return.
The holidays creates an opportunity to offer forgiveness and reconciliation to those who need it most in our lives. We can take the first step. Family and personal relationships can cause conflict, turmoil, and stress at any time, but the tensions are often heightened during the holidays. One phone call or conversation may not make amends for years of hurt, but it is still the first step that needs to get taken by somebody.
Hope is one of the greatest treasures we can ever find for ourselves and it is one of the greatest gifts we can ever give to somebody else. See the good in others. Believe in their greatest potential. And encourage often.
Maybe the greatest gifts we can give during Christmas are the very things we most desire to receive.
Rest and Relaxation
Christmas can cause unnecessary stress for many of us. It is important not to get too overwhelmed with pressure of responsibilities and remember that this should be a time for everyone to relax and enjoy. Expecting too much of yourself or others is a sure fire way to increase stress levels. Share the chores and get the family to muck in with the preparations and don’t try to cram in too much. Be honest with your commitments; making time for yourself is just as important as doing the rounds of loved ones.
It’s ok to do nothing. We spend 11 months of the year on time sensitive schedules and come December most of us are exhausted. Forget feeling guilty about sleeping in or taking an afternoon snooze in front of the tv. The holidays are perfect for catching up on some much needed sleep and your body will appreciate a little down time to recover from the day to day burdens you put it through. A well deserved rest will leave you feeling refreshed and your immune system in tune.
Reflect and make realistic resolutions
Take a moment to reflect on the year that has passed and be proud of what you achieved. End the year on a high by sharing your accomplishments with each other and if something didn’t go your way, ask yourself why? Acknowledge any mistakes or wrong turns you may have made and decide what you might have done differently. This way you can accept any wrong doings, learn from your mistakes and move on.
Make realistic resolutions for yourself and instead of deciding to give up on something, perhaps try adopting something new. Big changes often lead to failures because they cannot be maintained. Too many of us set high expectations for ourselves and give up on them in the first 2 weeks. It is better to set yourself small goals that are sustainable and will lead to long term success and will boost your self esteem on a regular basis.