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10 Ways to Stay Positive (When You Don’t Feel Like It) During the Holidays

10 Ways to Stay Positive (When You Don’t Feel Like It) During the Holidays

Marketing specialists were onto something when they started using positive words and symbols in their advertisements and logos. We all need little reminders sometimes. Jeep and LG got it right with their Life is Good line of phones, t-shirts, caps, tire covers and everyday products. New England even hosts a Life is Good Company who sells good vibes along with their creative line of apparel, home, and pet products.

Is all this marketing really going to keep your spirits up? Maybe not. That’s where I come in. Having been down on myself in the past, suffered from anxiety, and even clinically depressed, I am determined to share the lifelines that saved me from my own pity party. The holiday season is wrought with opportunities to celebrate, but when you really don’t feel it, all the Christmas carols in the world won’t help (they might, though). You need real ways to keep from letting everyone else’s happiness magnify your lack of it.

Here are 10 real ways to recapture that positive spirit this season (and all year long):

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1. Count your blessings

Seriously. Life, health, a home, clothing, food and family are blessings. Hopefully, you have some of these; if not, keep counting. Don’t stop until you can’t think of any more! Write them down so you don’t forget and add to the list regularly.

2. Have a pity party

I thought we were getting away from this, you’re thinking. Yeah, but allowing yourself five or ten minutes (no more) to feel bad is okay, but then move on to something else. Bad things do happen, but they do not need to define us or our lives.

3. Get busy

Don’t sit around after your pity party. Do your daily activities and you can feel accomplished at least in those things. Let others, like your kids, spouse or your live-in Au Pair or nanny, take some of the work off your list, when reasonable.

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4. Do something for someone else

You don’t have to donate a million dollars or every spare minute of your time. Try to do something nice for someone every day, even if it is just opening the door for them, picking up something they drop, or just smiling and looking in their eyes.

5. Do yourself a favor

You deserve to do something nice for yourself, whether it be getting a manicure, haircut or a small, special purchase, do it. Don’t break the bank, but treat yourself right, with love and respect.

6. Write a letter or make a phone call

It can be a letter or call to someone you’ve been meaning to contact, an old friend or even a letter to yourself. Share your current life and inquire about theirs.

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7. Go to church

The walls will not fall down. Sometimes it is nice to sit and listen to a choir or a sermon to put things into perspective, no matter your religion. Try a candlelight service or midnight mass.

8. Watch the news

You’re thinking, has she lost it? That can be depressing, but here’s the catch: your life isn’t that bad. Compared to the terrible events that make the news, your life might seem more simple and not so bad after all. The old adage, “it could always be worse”, is true. You likely have lots to be positive about in your life.

9. Go for a walk

Now that the weather is not as nice, daily walks are harder to accomplish, but the fresh air will do you wonders, not to mention the beautiful sights and sounds you may discover in the fall and winter.

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10. Embrace the season

Sing or listen to carols, decorate your house or room and remember the reason for the season. The entire world is remembering times and promises of old. Share with family and friends by asking about their happiest times and favorite childhood memories. It will be over soon, with a new year full of new opportunities for you.

If you try all of these and still can’t see a reason that life is good, maybe it’s a good time to talk to someone about how you feel. Emotions can drive our actions, therefore deserve great respect and our attention. Our feelings can change so quickly, but while we are experiencing them, they are all-consuming. Remember that you are not alone, even when it feels that way. Your community likely has resources as well. Reach out to your doctor or find one to help. Even if you don’t believe me right now, I promise you that life is worth living every day and things do get better.

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Joan Lowell

Educator, Writer

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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