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7 Steps for Staying Happy Through the Holidays

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I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but the holiday season has begun, and just as you have to prepare in advance for a big meal, it's good to prepare for how to make it through the holidays emotionally.

Let's face it, after New Year's Day, there are going to be a few long dark months to think about things. And for many of us, the holidays include anniversaries of deaths and other events fraught with emotion. But even if you have no bad associations with this time of year, all the activities and responsibilities can really take a lot out of a person. So here are some ideas for staying happy this holiday season!
  1. Do something just for the fun of it. Think about the things that made you happy during the holidays as a kid and try to relive some of that as an adult. Maybe it's going ice-skating or watching your favorite Christmas movie. Better yet, is there something you've always wanted to do over the holidays and haven't? Well, now is the time to do it!
  2. Do something just for yourself. Schedule a massage or a mani-pedi. Give yourself permission to take a nap--whatever you need to fill your tank, try to do it.
  3. Do something for others. Volunteering time, money, or donations can really make YOU feel better. But don't force it or do it just because it's the right thing to do. Instead, find something that you can do for love, and the love you share will magnify your gifts dramatically.
  4. Do something for nature. Feed the birds. Pick up trash. Start a compost pile (or if you already have one, spread some compost around. 'Tis the season!).
  5. Do something active. Yes, it might be cold outside, but that's no reason to not go out for a run or walk. If you're lucky enough to have snow, go sledding or skiing! Ride your bike. I will tell you that one Christmas Day run saved my life. The important thing is to get outside, absorb some vitamin D, and get your blood pumping.
  6. Do something to honor your ancestors. The holidays can be an emotional time--many of us have both happy and hard memories of people who have moved on to whatever comes next. An easy and enjoyable way to remember and honor them is to make some of their favorite foods. It also helps to find some quiet time to reflect, to think and be grateful for whatever those people brought into your life.
  7. Do something to forgive your friends and family. Sometimes your living friends and family can be emotionally challenging. The best gift you can give to yourself is to forgive them--examine your own emotions and motivations. Learn from the relationships. Respond to conflicts from your highest level of love and goodness (although, don't let yourself get run over either). At the end of the day--and at the end of the holidays--the happy memories won't come from gifts or presents as much as from genuinely connecting and appreciating your friends and family. And that includes genuinely connecting and appreciating yourself.
For more from Maria Rodale, visit www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com

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