Happy Holidays

At the beginning of every December I always tell myself that I’m going to slow down enough to really enjoy the holiday season, but it always seems to fly by in a whirlwind of stress and excitement. I think we can all agree that the holiday season tends to be a crazy one. Whether you have family coming into town, you’re taking a tropical vacation, or you’re working up until the eleventh hour of Christmas Eve, we tend to have a full plate this time of year.

It seems that this past week has brought on a whole new concept of holiday stress. This week our world has been plagued with three horrific tragedies, one of which took place far too close to home. Three people in Oregon and 28 in Connecticut lost their lives to gunmen, while 23 suffered brutal injuries in China. After last Tuesday, the idea of Christmas shopping at the mall became synonymous with fear, distrust and avoidance. It’s disheartening and shocking that so many children are amongst the recent dead, with their lives violently taken so close to a holiday that they find so magical. This week has been a wakeup call to say the least; Our country’s state of mental health is not what it should be. For many, it is easier to buy guns than it is to seek the counseling they so desperately need.

In the spirit of Christmas and in honor of the innocent lives that were lost this week, please take the time to reach out to your family and friends who mean the world to you. Make amends, let go of your grudges, and most importantly, forgive. This week we have seen how short life can be; It’s not meant to be spent in anger or hostility, it is meant to be nurtured and filled with love. Allow yourself to let go of some of the stress that is so common this time of year because in the larger scheme of the world, the little things seem pretty insignificant right now. Send good thoughts, prayers and wishes to the families of the victims and give thanks that we are lucky enough to be able to enjoy the holidays with loved ones.
I wish you a blessed and peaceful holiday season filled with love and forgiveness.

12 Tips for a Mentally Healthy Holiday Season

1. Do your best to get enough sleep so that you can keep a stable mood, feel good and avoid getting sick. Sleep can be a panacea for even the most stressful things.
2. Keep your shopping list simple and affordable. Nothing is worse for your mental health than the stress of added debt or a negative balance in your bank account.
3. If you’re on a budget, suggest your family does Secret Santa this year instead of buying a gift for everyone.
4. Plan meals that are easy for you, unless of course it is your passion to create elaborate and fancy dishes to decorate the holiday table.
5. Remember to breathe deeply and often. This will help you stay more calm and relaxed.
6. Stay in the present moment. You will enjoy yourself and others much more!
7. Be of service in one way or another by donating your time, treasures or talents to those less fortunate than you. This will make you feel good.
8. Call or write to someone you haven’t forgiven or are still holding a grudge against. No matter how much time has passed, it will feel great to be able to let go of your anger. A block in our lives will hold us back from being who we are meant to be.
9. Spend a day soaking up the Christmas ambience of the city with your family or friends. Enjoy the holiday decorations, have a cup of hot cocoa, and window shop the day away.
10. Drive home from work via different routes and check out the Christmas lights. A creatively decorated home is sure to delight you!
11. Slow down and enjoy what you are doing to prepare for the holidays. No matter how much you have to do, you’ll most likely get it all done whether you stress yourself out or choose to be present and enjoy what you are doing.
12. Smile and make eye contact with people you don’t know. This is what our world needs more of!

Eilise Ward