Everyone loves Christmas, but sometimes we can feel like we are left wanting for something more and focusing on what is missing. Here are 6 ways to find happiness this holiday season and improve your mental health for the busiest time of year.
So it’s Christmas time and it feels like everyone is happy and merry, but you are looking for something more. Often we find it is a time to reflect and think about the most important things in life like family, friends and having fun – which sometimes can lead to negative thoughts about what is missing in life. Personally I use to think about what was missing, whether I had a relationship or not, or whether my family and I planned a big enough celebration for the day, or why I haven’t got kids yet to spoil them and spend the day giving them all the joy I felt as a kid at this time of year. Over time I have learnt that Christmas is like any time of year, where you could get caught up in what others have got and what is missing in your life, or you could be happy and focus on what is special in your life. It is up to us to decide which we way we want to go. So here are 6 easy ways to find happiness this holiday season that have worked for me!
1. Give. Give. Give.
I think we get too wrapped up (pardon the pun haha) in thinking about what we can get for Christmas, or what we want from others. Whether it’s a gift we have been waiting for, a relationship, more meaning, or even the perfect Christmas – we might look at what is missing. This is not going to lead to happiness. What we need to focus on is giving. It is mind blowing that giving away more than you are receiving actually leads to happiness. You can do anything – whether its buying some presents for someone less fortunate, helping out at a homeless shelter, doing something special for someone (that is not a friend or family member as a random act of kindness), anything that involves giving will do. Giving is the key to happiness at Christmas. If you are lonely or don’t have a big family or friends, find a way to give, and maybe giving your time is something you can do? Give and you will actually receive more than you ever have – not in a material way, but in an even stronger emotional sense of having done something great for someone else. Personally I use to focus on what I could get for Christmas and since changing to thinking about what I can give, it has become a much happier of year. And like I said before, it doesn’t have to involve money, it can be giving up your time, or doing something unexpected that will make you feel great!
2. Find a way to make someone else happy and make them smile
Did I already say to give and give? Haha I know this is along the same lines of giving, but if you actually put some thought into what would make someone else happy and carry it out, you will feel so good about yourself. This one could be a family member or a friend. I know in the holiday season we are all running around trying to get everything done, but if you can find some time to sit with a friend or family member and be present, this will go a long way to helping them feel happy. I don’t know what it is, but there is something about making someone else smile that makes us feel good. It’s actually pretty easy to do if you try. Some people want love, some want to hear something funny, some want to hear a good story, but there is a way to make anyone smile. If you can make a stressed-out mum be present for 10 seconds and smile, you’ll be surprised at how much this will do for her day and mental health.
3. Be Grateful for What you Have got
Gratitude is something a lot of us lack at Christmas time. We focus on what is missing and what we are wanting, not what we have got. Personally even though I enjoyed being single, I found that at Christmas time I would always be wanting a relationship and feeling as though I am lonely because I didn’t have a partner at that time of year. This was me not showing gratitude. Even though I had an awesome family and great friends to spend the day with, I felt as if I wanted to be able to give to a partner and share the day with them. This is silly, because one day if I do find a relationship, there is the fact that one day someone from my family won’t be there, and I will wish that they were there and miss them too. So you can never have it all. The only thing we can have is what we have right now. I have read before that if we are grateful for what we have, then we can never be unhappy. Apparently it is not possible to be grateful and unhappy at the same time. I am working on this and so far I have found that it definitely helps. You will find happiness at Christmas if you can be present and focus on gratitude. Read my post on how I helped find happiness by showing gratitude.
4. Accept where you are at in life, and set goals for next year
Nothing in life is ever complete or perfect. If it was, we would be bored, or dead. Death is the only time that anything is complete, because in life we are always growing, and seeking new goals and challenges. I know, I know, that was deep. But I want you to accept where you are in life. You don’t have a partner? That’s ok, how many partners are arguing and unhappy at this time of year anyway? You might not have a partner, but you have freedom and the ability to spend more time with friends and family, or giving to others. Don’t have much money for presents for your kids? That’s ok, what you do have is plenty of love to give them. Kids don’t even understand how much the presents cost anyway. You could probably wrap up some boxes and put a few cheap toys inside each one and I guarantee the kids are still going to have a great time unwrapping 10 boxes whilst you play and have fun with them. Maybe not spending a lot of money on them at Christmas and giving them love will be a way to cultivate gratitude in their own lives for when they are older? And if you really want something, set a goal for it next year, and find out what you need to do to get there. Feeling down or unhappy about not having something is not going to do you any good, so why not feel happy that you are setting yourself something you want to achieve for next year, and feel great that you have 12 months to achieve it?
5. Be Social and spend time with those you love, or anyone!
Spending time with other people is so important, especially at Christmas time. Not everyone has a big family or lots of friends to spend time with, but I know there will be some way you can spend time with others. There are social events that you can go to, charities you can help with, and surely there are one or two people you know that you can ask to spend some time with. They might be lonely too, or they might have such a full house that they would gladly accept one more person to help them out with the dishes and being a friendly face around for the day. What did I say about giving again? 😛 Some people might feel that they are being pitied because they allow someone to let them into their home at Christmas when it is not their family or close friends; but this is your own mind telling yourself that. Why not give someone else the opportunity to give, and let them give to you at Christmas? There is no rule book on who you can or can’t spend Christmas with, so it is up to you to make something happen and create your own happiness.
6. Feel the Love
Christmas is ultimately a time of love, giving and letting others give to you. It is up to us to feel the love at Christmas. Remember you can either be ungrateful and thinking about what is missing in your life; or you can give, show gratitude, and have fun with the way things are in your life. After years of being ungrateful when I was younger, I now know which one I will be doing.. I now know that I have everything I need to have the perfect Christmas. Love others and let others love you; this will be the way to finding happiness in the Christmas season. And if you don’t have anyone to love (which I find hard to believe because you can give love to anyone in the world through a random act of kindness), what you can do is feed off of other peoples love. There are some awesome Christmas movies, stories, people we know, and things we can do that will make us feel great. Go out and admire the Christmas lights, go to a public place and watch the happiness others are feeling at this time of year, be grateful that you are alive and able to witness this awesome time of year. Anything that can create a bit of happiness within yourself will help.
Use these ways to spread the love this Christmas and New Years!
I know that Christmas can be a challenging time for your mental health. Whether you are busy, not busy, lonely or not lonely, each one of us has our own challenges. Ultimately we all need to focus on what we have got, and have a fun time. Forget about material things and what is missing in our lives, and come together to share this special time of year with those around us. Give and give, and let others give to you. Spread the love and watch how you will find happiness this holiday season.
PS. Thanks to all the legends who have read, shared and liked my blog, I greatly appreciate everything you have done to help me spread the word of positive living and to share my story. I have only been writing this blog for a few months and hope to write even more in the coming year, to help us all on our journey to positive living and a happy mental health.
About the author – Stef – Mental Health Advocate
Stef is a mental health advocate who dedicates much of his free time to improving his own and others mental health. Click here to have a read about Stef’s story and why he is so passionate about mental health, wellness and positive living.