5 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays

Finding Joy in the Holidays despite the trials that may come with them.

Terra Cooper December 06, 2014

The holiday season is a time for family, love and laughter. But often times the holiday season may not be a time of joy.  It may be a time where you remember loved ones lost, a painful annual memory, or you are away from your family or support system. It may be a time that it feels like “hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will, to men.”

Those that are in the adoption world may also have many memories that are triggered by this holiday season. Many may not be in contact with their birth or adoptive families. Around this time of year, we long to be with our loved ones, and if that is not possible, it can be a very lonely time.

I hope that some of these ideas can bring happiness and joy to your holiday season.

Do service for someone.
1. Do service for someone.

Nothing I've found pulls you out of a pity party or funk more than serving others around you. There are so many great opportunities around the holidays. Here are a few ideas:
* Contact your local Foster Care Foundation and provide presents for children in the system.
* Contact your local Sheriff's office and see if they do a wish list for children whose parents are in prison.
* Volunteer at your local homeless shelter.
* Do a coat/winter clothes drive for your local shelters.
* Visit the elderly at a nursing home.
* Write Christmas cards to send to troops overseas.
* Make cookies for your local fire station/police station.
* Find a charity to donate to.
* Sponsor a woman's education in developing/war torn countries. One of my favorite charities is Women for Women International. More about them at this link: http://www.womenforwomen.org/
* Shovel snow for a neighbor
* Donate a decorated tree to a shelter.
* Leave a quarter in a gum-ball machine and leave a note that says, "Merry Christmas!"
* Go to the dollar store and get items to stuff a few stockings. While in a store and you see a mom struggling with her children, give them a stocking.
* Take a meal to a neighbor.

Dance, move, run!
2. Dance, move, run!

We all know that exercise is good for you! So whether you head out to the gym, on a walk or dance around your house, get moving. It boosts brainpower by increasing serotonin in the brain, which improves your mental clarity. It melts away stress and produces a relaxation response that is a positive distraction. It helps elevate your mood and keep depression at bay. Exercise gives you energy, and who doesn't need more energy!?! You don't even need a lot. 15-20 minutes per day can give you the boost you need. Exercise can also help you live longer, ward off disease and give you a stronger heart. So get out and get moving!

Sing loud for all to hear!
3. Sing loud for all to hear!

Did you know that singing can have some of the same effects as exercise? It can release endorphins, which lifts your spirits and is also associated with stress reduction. Singing is also an aerobic activity! When you sing you have to use deep breathing which gets more oxygen into the blood for better circulation and reduces anxiety. Deep breathing is also the key to meditation and relaxation. So whether you sing in our car, shower or with your family and friends, sing loud for all to hear!

Write in your journal
4. Write in your journal

University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker contends that "regular journaling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes. Other research indicates that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Pennebaker believes that writing about stressful events helps you come to terms with them, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on your physical health."
By writing in your journal you will be more likely able to clarify your thoughts and feelings, know yourself better, reduce stress solve problems more effectively, find solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems and resolve disagreements with others.

Reach Out & Touch Faith (or a friend)
5. Reach Out & Touch Faith (or a friend)

There is value in human contact. Even if you feel like you want to be alone, call a friend or family member and go do something. It is also important to have actual physical human contact. "Extensive research by the University of Miami's Touch Research Institute has revealed that human touch has wide-ranging physical and emotional benefits for people of all age groups. In the Institute's experiments, touch lessened pain, improved pulmonary function, increased growth in infants, lowered blood glucose and improved immune function."*

So go and give someone a hug today, not only because they may need it, but it will benefit your physical and emotional well being as well!!

Having faith outside of yourself can also produce positive health effects. Go to a local religious meeting, meet new friends, pray, meditate, and give thanks for all you have. Faith can help get you through the trials of life and provide a community that is beneficial for your overall health.

*www.livestrong.com

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Terra Cooper

Terra Cooper is a Staff Storyteller at Adoption.com. She is a mother of three-- two boys and one girl who was adopted. She is also a professional wedding photographer, a self-proclaimed foodie, and a TV/movie addict. Visit her website.


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