Your Ho-Ho-Holiday Spirit Action Plan

By Marilynn Preston


Here comes  the December dilemma: Am I going to enjoy this holiday season or not? We all have obstacles to overcome: too little time; too little money; too much commercial merrymaking. And that’s not to mention the nightly news!

And still, dear reader, we have a personal choice this December: Do I get into the holiday spirit and juice up my well-being… or not? We’ve got Hanukkah and Christmas and the winter solstice coming up, all leading to the end of the year, when we make resolutions to find true love, or lose 20 pounds, or make good on that promise to work smarter, not harder.

See? Even making end-of-year resolutions can be stressful when you’re still in a perfectionist mode.

As your most personal trainer, I’m obliged to remind you that feeling

joy – the purpose of celebration – is an outrageously wonderful gift you can give yourself this December.

You can follow the lead of this Maxine greeting card:

“If I want to get into the holiday spirit, I’m gonna need a lot of holiday spirits.”

Or you can let me suggest some options for snuggling up to the Holiday Spirit, a term of art for a nondenominational practice that boosts your well-being and that of your family and friends – one that I will now spell out in limited detail:

“H” is for: Have a Plan

Move through December with a new awareness of its pleasures and pitfalls. The best way to do that is write it down. Start your journal today.

“O” is for: Observe

Observe your mood at set times during the day – by chime, by app, by golly. This classic kind of “stop” exercise is very instructive. The mind easily reverts to the negative. This December, try observing your mind in order to shift your thoughts to positive, pleasing, powerful and kind.

“L” is for: Laugh

Plan for a lot of laughing this December and your Well-Being Meter will not only register increased endorphin flow but also will begin to tickle your sides with elfin sensors.

“I” is for: Imagine

Imagine what joyful holidays look like. Where are you? Who are you with? What are you doing? Just play in your imagination. You may want to find a health coach who can help you get there, at least by next year.

“D” is for: Don’t get in your own way

If you feel yourself resisting all these suggestions, that’s OK. But if you feel yourself leaning in, say yes and see what happens.

“A” is for: Acceptance

Accept your December 2017 just as it is. Every behavior-modification expert knows that when you can accept your world just the way it is, you begin to sense the power you have to change it.

“Y” is for: Why?

Sit quietly and ask yourself: “Why am I focusing on a particular change for the new year? Is it something I want for myself, or am I doing it for my doctor, or my partner, or – God forbid – my insurance company?”

“S” is for: Sleep

Sleep can help you transition through whatever December dramas you encounter. Sleep allows your brain and body to reset and rejuvenate so it can rock and roll whenever it likes.

“P” is for: Play

Plan some playtime into your busy, crazy December schedule. Playing is what joy feels like, and the molecules of emotion that get released bathe your body in the biochemical equivalent of a double scoop of Rocky Road in a waffle cone.

“I” is for: Inspire Yourself

Sure, you can look around at the sale signs and feel you need another reindeer sweater or snowflake earrings, but where would you look if you wanted to boost your well-being? Would you turn to a friend, a poem? Would you turn inside? Do it, and repeat throughout the month.

“R” is for: Rest

Related to sleep, but not the same. To keep your immune system strong and your mood steady, rest during the holidaze with a 20-minute nap, a 10-minute meditation and five minutes of focused breathing per day, every day. (Exercise is good, too.)

“I” is for: Inspire others

Doing good will make you feel good. End of story (almost).

“T” is for: Take the time

What boosts your own holiday well-being? Family dinners? Avoidance of family dinners? Time in nature? Live music? Look at whatever’s left of your December calendar, and schedule yourself for fun.

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