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Finding Peace and Joy Amid the Holiday Hubbub

fall themed cookies and coffee spread

How do you find peace and well-being when there is often hubbub at home, more commotion among the extended family, and even more bustle wherever you go during the holiday season? These six suggestions are steps I and others in recovery have found helpful.

1 – Create joy

What makes you joyful? Think back on the times in your life when you were happiest. What is it about those times that made you happy? It may be a walk you took in deep snow or a festive family dinner. Maybe you went to church and sang all of your favorite Christmas carols. Perhaps it was lighting Hanukkah candles and sitting quietly to reflect as they burned. It could be that you visited a bakery and breathed in the smells of sugar, spices, and chocolate and then brought home a few of your favorite treats. Maybe it was wrapping presents for those you love most. The type of activity doesn’t matter as much as what it means to you. Make a list of meaningful activities that will carry you through to the new year and set aside time to do them.


2 – Give that Joy to Others

It’s a beautiful paradox that the more we give of ourselves, the more we get. There are many ways to help others during the holidays, from serving meals to wrapping gifts for Toys for Tots, from having lunch with someone who needs company to shoveling snow for an elderly or homebound neighbor. What helps you connect to others? What activities give you a sense of purpose? Find ways to engage in those activities and keep in mind that grand gestures are not needed. Small acts of kindness also create deep happiness for giver and receiver.


3 – Give the Gift of Appreciation

Let those you love know how much they mean to you. For that matter, let everyone know how much they mean to you. Write cards to those you love thanking them for how they have supported you. Give your mail carrier a gift card or some home-baked treats. Pay it forward at your local coffee shop. Say thank you to the UPS driver. Tell the grocery clerk thank you for being careful with your groceries. Gratitude expands our hearts, which sounds like a cliché. And it is, because it’s true. Being grateful connects us to others and to a sense of meaning in ourselves.


4 – Give Yourself “free to say no” Cards

What holiday-related tasks and events weigh you down? Give yourself the freedom to say no to those or to make them into something that you would enjoy more. If baking 12 dozen different kinds of cookies, feels like a chore, hand yourself that free card. Go to a bakery. Or bake two dozen of your favorite cookies and give a dozen away. If the office party fills you with dread, take a free card and spend the evening with your favorite kid or your best friend or your grandmother, whoever makes you happy. If you hate shopping, don’t do it. Give friends and family activities instead. Take your niece or nephew to the zoo. Maybe you and your mom can schedule a blah winter day at a local conservatory or a day in early spring at a blooming garden. Set a date with your best friend who loves hiking and go off on their favorite trail.


5 – Maintain the Habits that Keep You Grounded

Maintaining positive, healthy habits like starting the day with a nutritious breakfast, scheduling daily meditation, attending meetings, and taking a walk or doing some other kind of exercise daily are all good habits that are even more important to maintain during stressful periods like the holidays.


6 – Get Rest

Set aside times to relax, whether sitting outside in the sunshine, enjoying a seat in front of your fireplace, or wherever you can let go of your to-do list and worries. Read a book or watch your favorite holiday movie. Do a crossword puzzle or play Sudoku. Or just stare into the fire and enjoy the coziness. Whatever makes you feel cared for, safe, and relaxed is what you should find time to do.

We have a choice at the holidays – to do what we think we must, even if it’s joyless, or to ground ourselves in the joys of the season—renewal, generosity, kindness, and the love of family and friends. Embrace what matters most to you and make your holidays shine.


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