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How to Stay Mentally Healthy During the Holidays

Do the holidays stress you out? You’re not alone. It’s a hectic time of year for many people, maybe even most people.

Nothing about our usual daily life goes away. The holidays add a layer of activities and responsibilities, both real and imagined, that take up time, money and emotional energy. Even if we enjoy many aspects of the season, there may well be moments when we wish we could rewind the calendar to somewhere in the middle of August.

I can’t reverse the calendar, but I can remind you of some strategies for maintaining your sanity during this most pressured time of year.

  • Recognize that the people in your life are who they are. It is not new information who will be the Scrooge, who will drink too much, who will have unrealistic expectations or who will be generous to a fault. No one is going to change just because it’s the holidays. Let go of the idea you can change anyone who bugs you. Find constructive ways to minimize their impact on your life. Put your energy and time into those who know how to love and whose presence makes you happy.
  • Give yourself permission to let some things go. Take a moment each morning to gather your thoughts. Make a list of all the things you have to do and want to do. Check off the two or three items that are really important to you. Let yourself entertain the idea of letting go of many of the others — or at least reducing them in some way. Many of us make our own stress by buying into the “have to’s.”
  • Take time every day to enjoy something about the season. It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of decorating and shopping and baking and wrapping. But are you enjoying any of it? Stop. Breathe. Take a few minutes to enjoy the decorations on the lampposts or to really look at the lights. Savor one of the cookies. Inhale the warm smells coming from your oven. Wrapping a gift can be just another chore or it can be a way to quietly celebrate what the intended receiver means to you.
  • Take care of yourself. We should do this all the time but it’s especially important to get enough sleep, to eat right, and to get some exercise every day when stressed. Self-care is not an “extra,” even though it may seem to take too much time. Time invested in yourself each day will more than pay off in your general sense of well-being throughout the season.
  • Everything in moderation. Be mindful of your own tipping points when it comes to holiday indulgences. You already know your limits for alcohol and sweets. Listen to your own good sense and you’ll avoid waking up with regret, a hangover or an extra five pounds.
  • Stick to your budget. Forty-five percent of those polled in a recent survey done by Think Finance (a provider of payday loans) said that the financial stress of the holidays makes them wish they could skip the whole thing. This was true across all income levels. Yes, it’s difficult to resist the commercialism, the hype, the buy, buy, buy messages that are everywhere. But it’s important to remind ourselves that overspending is not the only way to express love. Gifts that are made by the giver often are more meaningful and treasured than anything that comes from a store. Spending quality time with someone sometimes is the best present of all.
  • Reach out. Lonely? Being alone, far from family or without one during the holidays is a key source of stress for many people. Connect with friends and plan some activities that celebrate the season — even if it’s just enjoying a peppermint stick in a cup of tea. Attend your house of worship and stay if there is a coffee hour. Get into the holiday spirit by volunteering at a soup kitchen or charity event for needy children. Being in a festive atmosphere with other good people who are doing good work is a great antidote for loneliness.
  • Do random acts of kindness. Get into the season of giving. Let someone else have that parking space near the store. Compliment the harried store clerk. Let the mom who is shopping with kids go ahead of you in line. Be generous with street musicians. Doing good will make you feel good — or at least better.
  • Be grateful. Research has shown that taking the time to be grateful every day has enormous physical and mental health benefits. It helps build our immune systems, keeps us in touch with the positive aspects of life, and connects us with others. So keep a holiday gratitude journal. From now until the New Year take a few minutes every day to write down at least three things you are grateful for. They don’t have to be huge events. Sure. If you win the lottery tomorrow, you can be grateful for that. But short of such a windfall, we can be grateful for having enough food to eat or for getting a phone call from a friend or for the neighbor whose holiday lights make us smile.

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The holiday season may be busy, but it doesn’t have to drive us insane. We do have the ability to bring down the stress and bring up the joy. After all, the best gift we can give ourselves and those around us is our own peace of mind.

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Fun Fact Friday

  • Your body craves sugary, salty and fatty foods when you’re under a lot of stress.

  • When feeling down, do some cleaning. Straightening out the physical aspects of your life can also bring clarity to the mental one.

 

  • Music is powerful enough to change a person’s perception of the world.

  • Socially anxious people can lessen their anxiety by performing small acts of kindness, a study found.

Happy Friday!
source: @Fact


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The Easiest Way To Boost Happiness Right Now

Acts of Kindness Really Do Boost Happiness

How to nudge your happiness in the right direction.

Little acts of kindness really do provide a small, but significant boost to happiness.

Things like running an errand for a neighbour, helping someone in the street or giving someone a present unexpectedly all boost the giver’s happiness.

That’s to say nothing of the happiness of the person who received the help.

Psychologist have even found that helping others boost happiness more than helping yourself.

This could be because helping others helps to nurture social relationships.

Researchers pooled the results of 21 different studies to reach their conclusions.

The happiness gains from an act of kindness are equivalent to one point on a 1-10 scale, the study’s authors concluded.

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The study’s authors conclude:

“These effects are comparable to other positive psychology interventions.
This suggests that performing acts of kindness will not change your life, but might help to nudge it in the right direction.”

Acts of kindness have even been suggested as a way to help people experiencing excessive amount of anxiety.

Dr Oliver Scott Curry, the study’s lead author, said:

‘Humans are social animals. We are happy to help family, friends, colleagues, community members and even strangers under some conditions.
This research suggests that people do indeed derive satisfaction from helping others.
This is probably because we genuinely care about others’ welfare, and because random acts of kindness are a good way of making new friends, and kick-starting supportive social relationships.’

Dr Curry continued:

‘Many groups in the last decade have been keen to establish a link between kindness and happiness, including the UK government.
Offering kindness to others has been explored as a possible panacea for many of our social ills, ranging from social isolation to more serious mental and physical health conditions.
Our review suggests that performing acts of kindness will not change your life, but might help nudge it in the right direction.
We recommend further research is done to compare the effects of being kind to family and friends as opposed to strangers.
This is an area about which we know surprisingly little at the moment.’

The study was published in the journal Open Science Framework (Curry et al., 2016).

source: PsyBlog


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10 Life Lessons From People in the Know

Is this the secret sauce of a good life?

“What are the most important lessons you have learned over the course of your life?”

Dr. Karl Pillemer and his team have amassed over 1500 responses to this question from America’s elders as part of the Legacy Project. Their answers are chock-full of practical advice and insight. While you may not want to ask one of his elderly subjects to program your DVR, their insight is timeless and relevant for all ages.

Here are some of their essential life lessons:

1. Say it now:

Express yourself. Tell the people you love how much they mean to you. Don’t assume they know how important they are to you. You don’t want to regret not having said it.

2. Show up:

Be there for your friends. It is always tempting to stay home but you will never regret having made the effort to be there for a friend in good times and in bad. Your support means the world and you will be glad you made the effort.

3. Be actively kind:

“A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction,” said John Stuart Mill. Go out of your way to be kind. You will never regret it.

4. Travel more:

Get out there and see the world was a recurring theme Pillemer encountered in his interviews. Not only did the elderly he spoke with say they enjoyed traveling, they also savored the memories for years to come.

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5. Don’t worry so much:

“I wish I hadn’t worried so much,” was a common theme. Many respondents expressed regret over needless worrying about things they could not control and, looking back, viewed it as a waste of time.

6. Think small:

Savor the micro-moments. Appreciate the simple things like a warm dog on a cold night and a beautiful sunset.

7. Say “yes” to opportunities:

As Wayne Gretzky famously said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Take advantage of opportunities to try new things and don’t be afraid to fail. For the most part, the elderly Pillemer interviewed regretted what they didn’t do, not what they had done.

8. Be social:

Push yourself to stay actively social and engaged. The most social elderly adults are also the happiest.

9. Find work you love:

Do something that means something to you. Work hard at something that suits your strengths. Not one person said get a job based on the financial rewards.

10. Life is short:

It might sound like a cliché, but almost all the people Pillemer interviewed echoed this theme and declared it to be, “the one thing young people must know.” Don’t spend your time playing video games or scrolling through Instagram, they cautioned.

Bottom Line: Time is valuable. Use it well and don’t waste a minute.

Apr 18, 2016        Samantha Boardman, M.D.

For science-backed, actionable insights delivered directly to your inbox,
visit www.PositivePrescription.com and sign-up for The Weekly Dose
 
Positive Prescription
Data-driven and science-backed resources
to encourage and promote a positive and fulfilling life.
 
Samantha Boardman, M.D., is a clinical instructor in psychiatry
and assistant attending psychiatrist at Weill-Cornell Medical College. 

 source: www.psychologytoday.com


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A Totally Innocent And Simple Way to Feel Happier

Activity may raise feel-good neurotransmitters and boost mood.

Being kind to others boosts mood and wellbeing more than being kind to yourself, new research finds.

It may be partly because being kind to others helps nurture social relationships.

People tend to feel greater pride in themselves after doing a good deed for others than when they do a good deed for themselves.

The results come from a study of almost 500 people.

Some performed acts of kindness for others, like picking up litter or buying a friend a cup of coffee.

Others performed acts of kindness for themselves like taking a day off work or doing more exercise.

The study’s authors explain why doing things for others increases wellbeing:

“…as people do nice things for others, they may feel greater joy, contentment, and love, which in turn promote greater overall well-being and improve social relationships and so on.
Indeed, substantial evidence indicates that experiencing frequent positive emotions leads people to be more trusting of others, to form more inclusive social groups, and to include others in their sense of self.”

happiness

In contrast doing nice things for oneself…

“…does not appear to lead individuals to feel greater positive emotions and fewer negative emotions, perhaps because the hedonic benefits are short-lived and/or are neutralized by hedonic costs (like guilt).
In addition, self-focused behaviors in the current study were often solitary and may have offered fewer opportunities to improve relationships.
Indeed, including others in one’s experiences appears to be an important component for such experiences to improve well-being.”

The authors conclude:

“When it comes to the pursuit of happiness, popular culture encourages a focus on oneself.
By contrast, substantial evidence suggests that what consistently makes people happy is focusing prosocially on others.
The results of this study contribute to a growing literature supporting the benefits of prosocial behavior and challenge the popular perception that focusing on oneself is an optimal strategy to boost one’s mood.
People striving for happiness may be tempted to treat themselves.
Our results, however, suggest that they may be more successful if they opt to treat someone else instead.”

The study was published in the journal Emotion (Nelson et al., 2016).

source: PsyBlog


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7 Things Truly Kind People Do EVERY Day That Make Us Adore Them

By Jan Bowen

It’s hard not to love a person this great!

Have you ever noticed that kind people are also incredibly content in their life?

That’s because being kind literally increases our levels of health and happiness. Research shows this impacts our relationships positively, as well. Kindness helps keeps couples together. The more your partner is on the receiving end of your goodwill, the more likely they are to shower you with love in return.

Kindness is pretty awesome. It creates an overall climate of trust, acceptance and comfort. And let’s be honest — in this age of violence, war, general snarkiness, and online cruelty, “being kind” is it’s own form of social rebellion. What a fun way to “stick it” to an overly harsh world.

While over-the-top “nice” people tend to annoy us, genuine kindness is a trait pretty much everyone appreciates and admires. So what’s the difference between that amazing, kind person everyone adores and, well … you? Here a seven things they do every single day that make people want to be around them:

1. They’re kind to themselves. They know that being spontaneous and generous requires having solid stores of your own positive energy. So, they take care of meeting their own needs first, before giving to others. As a result, receiving from them feels like a true gift.

2. They’re grateful. Truly and deeply grateful … for life and all its blessings, its challenges, and its lessons. In every circumstance, they take time to find and acknowledge the kernel of good — viewing every situation with a glass half full mindset. They still acknowledge what’s challenging, but in facing it, they strive to help others keep perspective, too.

3. They truly listen. Even when they have something to add, they know how to just listen first to what others say, so that the person talking feels respected and understood. They connect fully, listen with interest, and don’t censor or talk-over what others are saying.

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4. They’re confident. Their self-confidence allows them to indulge their big-hearted nature without expecting anything in return. And others find this quality incredibly attractive. Every day, kind people look for opportunities to give someone the benefit of the doubt — and they do. Because they’re confident in themselves, they don’t need to take others down for every misstep.

5. They genuinely care. Kind people pay attention and your happiness and well-being are on their mind. While they respect personal boundaries, they support and celebrate what serves your higher good. They want to know how your day is, how your mom is, and that the people in your life treat you right.

6. They laugh often. Kind people see the humor and irony in situations, without the snarkiness and meanness others typically show. Life is funny! And these awesome people know that sometimes the best gift you can give someone is just helping them laugh and lighten up. Dropping a witty comment at just the right moment — they are masters light-hearted comedy.

7. They’re respectful. They thrive on diversity but don’t expect others to share their opinions. They accept your right to your own viewpoint, even if they don’t agree with it. And they would never shame or embarrass someone in any way — verbally or non-verbally. They look out for others and try to protect them from feeling small in front of others.

Small acts of kindness make a big difference.

Grand gestures don’t always mean more than small kindnesses. After all, it’s the “little things” that show an awareness of others (who they are and what they love). Kind people put their love for you into action, through small thoughtful gestures that show they care enough to pay attention. Little things like: sending cards, making a phone call, buying presents.

But life is busy, times get hectic and we don’t always have time for those extra actions.

We will, however, always have time for kindness because it is the real intention and emotion behind those actions. Follow up with those gestures when you have the time and opportunity and watch how fast those around you begin to think you’re the kindest person they know.

But when you don’t, still make the time to take care of yourself, truly listen in a conversation, and be deeply grateful. And just see if the world doesn’t seem a little … or a lot… nicer.

Jan L. Bowen is an author and certified thought leader, experienced at helping her clients facilitate their life more joyfully and easily. 


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The 7 Surprising Ways Being Kind Makes You Healthier and Happier

By: Diane M.     November 16, 2015      Follow Diane at @DianeMacEachern

Being nice or kind is often touted as a way to do something good for someone else. But in addition to helping others, being kind turns out to be just as good for the person extending the kindness as for the person receiving it, if not more so. Here are 7 surprising ways being kind is so good for you, it makes you healthier!

1) Being kind increases your overall sense of happiness and well-being. Dr. Stephen Post of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love says being kind generates a side effect he calls “the giver’s glow.” One of the top five factors contributing to lower depression rates is “giving to neighbors and communities,” according to a study conducted in Great Britain, reports the Denver Post. Don’t believe it? Try it yourself. See if you don’t feel good if you help someone across the street, make a meal for a neighbor in need or donate to a cause you know needs the help.

2) Being kind reduces stress. There is a strong link between random acts of kindness and stress reduction, says Lauren E. Miller, a breast cancer survivor and author of “Release the Stress around Breast Cancer…”, who also says that gratitude for acts of kindness figures into the equation.“When you are grateful and practicing random acts of kindness in your life, you end up feeling safe and connected to that which is good and true in this world and the result is inner calm, clarity of thinking and a heart full of love.”

3) Being kind builds emotional resilience. Numerous studies have shown that receiving, giving or even witnessing acts of kindness increases immunity and the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood in the brain, reports Psychology Today. Being kind may even nourish one’s sense of purpose and meaning, which can help you get through tough times relatively unscathed.

4) Being kind can help overcome addiction and alcoholism. Being kind to others by volunteering has long been promoted as an important way for an addict to recover. “By volunteering, you not only give back, you also help yourself to start to feel self-worth again,” says the website of the Promises Treatment Center. “You will matter to people who need you, and that can be a powerful agent for making more positive changes in your life.”

At the same time, extending kindness to addicts helps them recover. “Too often, drug addicts and alcoholics are treated as though they are horrible people with low moral standing,” writes Dr. Michael Weiner. But dwelling on transgressions…”only makes an addict feel worse about themselves than they did before.” On the other hand, the warmth and kindness shown by therapists, family members and friends goes a long way in helping people recover. “I know from personal experience that a little kindness and straightforwardness eases a patient’s journey through rehab,” says Weiner, a former addict who has also treated hundreds of patients for addiction.

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5) Being kind reduces depression, ulcers and heart disease. When researchers at Harvard University showed one group a film about Mother Teresa’s work and another group a neutral film, they documented an increase in the production of protective antibodies in those who watched the film about giving. “Performing kind acts provides social contact and reduces feelings of depression, hostility and isolation, which can lead to overeating and ulcers,” as well as heart disease.

6) Being kind may help you live longer. Volunteering frequently to help others is associated with delayed mortality among older adults, according to a Stanford University study. In fact, people who volunteered a lot had 63 percent lower mortality than non-volunteers, mostly due to their greater physical activity, health habits and social support networks. Plus, a study of elders in assisted living shows that helping activities improved residents’ mental health by creating positive attitudes toward aging, a sense of connectedness and improvements in feelings of control and life satisfaction, as well as decreased depression and mortality.

7) Being kind builds good karma. I happen to be someone who believes, “What goes around, comes around.” Be mean and cruel to someone and that’s what will come back at you in spades. But be nice, thoughtful, generous and helpful? That’s what will return to you time after time, too. As I tell my kids, “Be kind. It doesn’t cost you anything, and you’ll get back a whole lot more than you give.”

And don’t forget: being kind to animals is just as good for you as being kind to other people.

“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace” says the Dalai Lama. So…go for it!