Five tips for holiday happiness

10 December 2018

Thinking about your Christmas list already? Don’t forget to put yourself near the top.

The holiday season is a fun, social time of the year, but with so much to think about, it’s easy to get caught up in the rush. As our five tips below show, the best present is being present in the moment and enjoying the time. So before you write your Christmas list, give yourself a break and take a look at this one.

1. There’s no ‘me’ in Christmas

Ok, there’s no ‘we’ in it either, but much of your holiday time is likely to be spent in the company of family, friends, kids and colleagues. That means you’re ‘always on’, making conversation, looking after others and preparing meals. It’s great to be surrounded by people who care about you and enjoy your company but making a little time for yourself can make the social occasions even more enjoyable.

Find space in your day to clear your mind and reconnect with nature. It can be as simple as chilling with a coffee and a magazine at your favourite cafe, walking the dog or taking a stroll along the beach.

By making it a daily habit, you’ll find that the little things aren’t as annoying any more. If you practice yoga or meditation, that’s perfect but even if you don’t, there are several excellent mindfulness apps that will guide you. Pushed for time? Simply looking up at the sky, even if it’s just for 10 or 15 minutes is an amazing relaxer. Mindfulness is about being aware of your state of mind and your personal wellbeing and it can help reduce stress and anxiety, especially at such a busy time of year.

2. Put your heart into it

Seriously, who can resist all those yummy Christmas goodies? Work do’s, drinks, BBQ’s and dinners make for the perfect opportunity to enjoy the good things in life. Having a bit of regular exercise on the menu can make the good times even more enjoyable. As well as helping keep the kilos off, exercise releases mood enhancing chemicals, like endorphins and serotonin and you don’t even have to hit the gym. Fun family activities like a game of lawn cricket or going for a beach or bush walk are perfect. Just half an hour of moderate activity a day can reduce your stress and give you more energy.

3. Being present is the best present

Can you really remember what that distant relative gave you last year? It feels good to give (and receive) but it’s what you give that counts. It’s not just about expensive presents and outside of immediate family, most people don’t really expect a gift. Giving someone your time and attention is a gift they will always remember. So this Christmas, ditch the gift list and look after the people around you and those close to you. And remember to reach out to those who might be lonely or struggling over Christmas, even if it is just to let them know you care and that you are there for them.

4. Set goals not resolutions

New Year’s resolutions is a term that’s almost become a byword for lack of commitment. That’s usually because we choose our resolutions for the wrong reasons. We’re not suggesting you ditch the resolutions altogether, but replace them with achievable goals for your personal growth, health, financial wellbeing and contribution to society.

It feels good knowing you’ve achieved something. One way to make sure your goals happen is to choose things that you really want to do, rather than those you feel that you should do. If you hate going going to the gym, then don’t make that your goal. If you’ve always wanted to walk the Milford Track, that’s the personal goal to achieve this year. Breaking goals down into smaller goals makes them more achievable, like getting your tramping boots and breaking them in.

Finally, write down your goals for the year. By committing them to paper, you set your creativity up to start achieving them. Just make sure they’re visible - you’re more likely to stick to a goal on the fridge or your phone than one that’s tucked away in a drawer. It’s much better to have two achievable goals than a laundry list you’re unlikely to get through.

5. Open your mind

Like your body, giving your brain a workout makes it feel good. So over the holidays, why not take time out to take up a new hobby or learn something new. It might be learning a new language or a musical instrument, developing your creativity with an arts and crafts course or joining the local bowls or tramping club. The good news is, it’s never been easier to feed your brain as there is a mind-boggling range of great and often free, online education and training at your fingertips. From learning guitar on YouTube to free access to training sites like Lynda.com through your local library. It’s a gift that will keep on giving for years to come.