5 Ways to Be Happier During the Holidays

Full disclosure, as a child and adolescent therapist, I really wanted to name this blog 5 Ways to Be More Childlike During the Holidays, but I knew there were going to be very few people seeking out such wild and crazy ideas! However, acting more childlike will in fact, make you happier. So, consider this clickbait, because we are really going to be talking about how to express great joy and excitement this year, by connecting to our inner child.


The holidays are for children. The magic, the gifts, the stories, the treats…all for kids! Many of the lessons that the holidays teach us, are good reminders for adults, but were first learned as children. How to give, how to have faith, the importance of family, how to experience joy and gratitude.


These 5 tips will have you embracing that youthful spirit, and hopefully letting go of some of that grown-up stress!


1.)   Get into the spirit-There is so much awe and wonder during the holidays and honestly, not so hard to find if you spend a little time looking for it. I know the holidays can be hard and stressful. From overcommitting, to strained family dynamics, there is no shortage of added stress this time of year. However, just like much of what I teach my clients, situations are what we make of them. We can choose just where we focus our energy and there is some awesome power in that! For a month, a week, or a day, commit to believing in the magic of the season. Pay extra attention to the twinkling lights around town, the seasonal smells or music playing everywhere you go. This is a time of year when seemingly anything can be possible. Try not to get annoyed. I rarely see annoyed children during the holidays. There is too much excitement to be had!


2.)   Look forward to something fun-Whether you have traditions you look forward to every year, or you are looking to create some new memories, plan something and look forward to it, or decide that you will look forward to a part of the season (the giving, the music, the lights).  Anticipation so often brings us anxiety, but to feel the emotion fully, we need to regularly explore the more positive side of anticipation. That, “I can’t sleep I am so excited” kind of anticipation. For kids, they get to experience this much more frequently than adults. We are really missing out in this department!  I make it a personal practice to always have something to look forward to, even if it’s something small and mundane. This keeps me motivated and grounded at the same time. What are you truly looking forward to this season?


3.)   Share with others-This is one of the first REALLY important lessons I wanted my son to learn. Maybe some of you parents reading this feel the same way? Children are reminded constantly to share and be generous. For adults, sharing with others feels good, it helps us to be more grateful for what we have, and that what we have is enough and we are enough. Sharing and giving does not always mean monetary exchange needs to occur. During the holidays, more than ever, volunteers are needed at multiple organizations and charities in town. Giving can also mean holding the door for someone, giving at smile when you’re in the LOONNG line at the post office, or other random acts of kindness. Giving to others is a guaranteed way to boost your own happiness. Just make sure you have taken care of yourself first, so you don’t feel burnt out or overextended.


4.)   Practice Receiving-This is one that children are inherently comfortable with. Biologically, children are programmed to bond and attach, and this comes from the ability to receive care and nurturance from their parents. Through my practice, I have seen so many teens and adults who cannot receive from others. Whether this is a compliment, help for emotional pain, help at home, work, or school it seems that the vulnerability it takes to receive with gratitude is something that we need to practice more often after childhood. During this holiday season, I would encourage you to receive with a gracious heart (remember, thank you, that’s all you have to say), and work to really take inventory of what you have on your plate, and be willing to either ask for help or let some of it go. Do you need to send Christmas cards this year? What about the big meal, is potluck an option? There is no need to spread yourself so thin that by the end of the season you are frazzled, resentful, and completely depleted of energy. Take care of yourself and don’t always put the needs of others first. That is a recipe for unhappiness, no matter the season!


5.)   Don’t forget to play and have fun-When is the last time you played? I have found that a lot of adults don’t really know how to play or have fun. We go out to dinner, or a party during the holidays and call it fun. I’m sorry, that’s not really fun! Sledding is fun, playing tag is fun, trying to throw popcorn in each other’s mouths is fun! Letting go of what others might think and getting completely lost in the moment you are enjoying, with absolutely no thought of the next moment. This is fun! If you are an adult that struggles with being vulnerable and connecting to the more childlike part of yourself, I challenge you to really get outside of your comfort zone. This is a time of year when it is completely accepted act like a kid. Please take advantage of it!


Let me know if any of these are things you are doing already or would like to try more of! The possibilities are endless to be more childlike, and happier as we round out the last two weeks of the year. Remember what the season is about for you and your family and enjoy as much of the season as you possibly can. It will all be over in a flash!