The holiday season always seems to start too soon and end too quick. Even before the Thanksgiving turkey is gobbled up, Christmas decorations deck the halls of the department stores, and holiday deals stuff your email inboxes like a Christmas stocking.
However, the bliss comes to an end all too fast after the the new year rolls in. You wake up hungover, only to be sobered up by the thought that work is right around the corner.
So how can you make the joy of the holiday season last? Try these three tips:
1.) Write thank you notes
The holiday season is generally marked by the sudden influx of Christmas cards, but it is very rarely followed by an influx of thank you notes. Nevertheless, sending thank you notes for the gifts you receive this holiday season could be the key that keeps the holiday joy bubbling like New Year’s champagne throughout the year.
Various studies have shown a strong link between gratitude and happiness. In fact, researchers have actually found that performing exercises of gratitude has the power to change your brain. In a study performed by researchers at Indiana University, participants were asked to write letters expressing gratitude as part of a therapy session for depression and anxiety. Months after the study, those that had undertaken the writing task were found to have been still more grateful than the control group.
The truth is, writing thank you notes yields benefits not only for the recipient, but for yourself too, explains Julie Noyce, General Manager of Bond. “The simple act of taking a few minutes to think about what message you’d like to send and how you will express it can affect levels of positive hormones and cortisol similarly to opening a note. So send each message knowing how pleased the recipient will be, and reap some positive benefits yourself!”
2.) Meditate to remember what is most important
Throughout the holiday season, it is easy to get distracted by gifts. Of course, it’s exciting to receive them, but letting them become our primary focus is nonetheless damaging. Once the novelty wears off, it’s easy to fall back into varying degrees of dissatisfaction.
In order to avoid this, one option is to turn to meditation, explains accomplished meditator Trinlay Rinpoche in a Mindworks blog post. “The mind has innate qualities of well-being and clarity that lie hidden beneath this superficial level of dissatisfaction. The main purpose of meditation is to access and enhance these positive qualities of mind. The more we can do this the less we will rely on external situations for our happiness.”
Even further, while some argue that mindfulness and meditation need more rigorous study, some evidence already suggests that meditation is linked to a reduction in feelings of depression, anxiety, and even physical pain. For this reason, meditation may serve as a positive strategy to help lift your spirits in the post-holiday season. You could even implement it as part of your New Year’s resolutions.
3.) Choose realistic New Year’s resolutions
Speaking of New Year’s resolutions, it’s easy to be discouraged when the holiday season comes to a close. Especially with the probability that you’ve packed on some pounds during the Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas triathlon. However, New Year’s resolutions offer the chance to get back on the right track.
Despite many shiny new gym memberships and best intentions to shed those pounds, approximately 80 percent of resolutions have been found to fail by the second week of February. And according to Dr. Mark Griffiths, the main reason for this is that people tend to set too many or unrealistic goals, coupled with the “false hope syndrome,” whereby people misjudge the ease of changing their behaviour.
In an article for The Conversation, he describes some of his recommendations for accomplishing our goals in the new year. “You need to begin by making resolutions that you can keep and that are practical,” he writes. Additionally, he points out that “breaking up the longer-term goal into more manageable short-term goals can be beneficial and more rewarding.”
By setting the right goals, you can keep yourself from being discouraged at the start of the new year and ride the wave of holiday joy. But in addition, expressing gratitude and practicing mindfulness are also crucial steps to ensure that your new year kicks off on the right note. With all of the craziness going on in the world, these steps might just help keep spirits high all year long.