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Nurturing Positivity: A Guide to Maintaining a Resilient Mindset During the Festive Season

Updated: Jan 22

As we move through December and the festive season draws near, the air is filled with a sense of joy and excitement. However, for some, this time of year can also bring feelings of loneliness and stress. In this blog post, we'll explore effective strategies to keep a more positive mindset during the holiday season.

Understanding the Challenge

Despite the festive atmosphere, December can be a challenging month for many. According to surveys and studies, loneliness tends to spike during the holiday season. In a survey conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), about 43% of respondents reported feeling lonely during the holidays.

Research conducted by Mind UK in 2017 found that 36% of people were too embarrassed to admit they were lonely at Christmas and one in ten people considered taking their own life in the festive season. Factors such as the longer darker nights, family expectations, social comparisons, and memories of lost loved ones can contribute to these feelings. In 2023 this is compounded by the current cost of living crisis and the global humanitarian crisis unfolding in many countries around the world.

However, it's important to recognise that you are not alone in this feeling, and acknowledging this shared experience is the first step toward fostering a more resilient mindset during the holidays.

There’s a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in. Leonard Cohen

Strategies for Maintaining Positivity and Resilience

Set Realistic Expectations

Acknowledge that the holiday season doesn't have to be perfect. Let go of unrealistic expectations and embrace imperfections, focusing on the joyous moments. Realign your thoughts to spot the small moments of joy hidden in the everyday workings of life.

Cultivate Gratitude

Practice gratitude by reflecting on the positive aspects of your life. You can do this each morning or evening by keeping a gratitude journal to capture moments of joy and thankfulness. We need to retrain our minds to look at what we have rather than what we want, and instead of comparing ourselves to those who have more than we may have, consider how grateful someone else might be to have all that we have been blessed with.

Connect with Others

Reach out to friends, family, or even colleagues. Attend social gatherings, virtual or in-person, to foster connections and combat feelings of isolation. If you truly feel there is no-one in your life that you can reach out to, make use of support organisations such as the Samaritans or Cruse bereavement support line. Alternatively you could consider making plans to join networks in the New Year to build those connections for the following festive period. Your current reality doesn’t have to be your future reality.

Volunteer and Give Back

Engage in acts of kindness and volunteer for charitable organisations. Giving back not only helps others but also brings a sense of purpose and fulfilment. During the winter months and during periods of festivities there are lots of charities and groups who need additional support. For most of us there are always those less fortunate and so donating some of your time to groups such as Shelter to support homeless adults and children helps to put perspective on some negative feelings.

Create New Traditions

If the traditional holiday activities contribute to stress, consider creating new traditions that align with your values and bring you joy. During my divorce I dreaded Christmas with its days without my young children in the home, and so I introduced new traditions for us when we were together which we have kept up even as my children have grown into their late teens.

Mindful Relaxation

Incorporate mindfulness practices into your routine, such as deep breathing or meditation, to manage stress and stay grounded in the present moment.

Limit Social Media Use

Be mindful of the impact of social media on your mood. Limit your time on platforms that may contribute to feelings of inadequacy or comparison. I can’t stress this enough, especially when we’re more susceptible to feelings of loneliness, seeing the highlight reels provided by others is not a fair reflection of life. Aspire to being your own version of happy and not the version that requires you to compete with others.

Reducing social media use to even 30 minutes per day results in significantly lower levels of:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Loneliness

  • Sleep problems

  • Fear of missing out (FOMO)

Prioritise Self-Care

Take care of your physical and mental well-being. Get enough sleep, eat nourishing foods, and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.

Celebrate Personal Achievements

Reflect on your personal achievements and growth throughout the year. Celebrate your resilience and progress, focusing on the positive aspects of your journey. Milestones don’t have to be big in order to be important. Some things that we forget to acknowledge include:

  • Removing someone negative from your life

  • Meeting someone who introduced you to new ideas, even if that person is no longer around

  • Learning a new skill (diy, work, or hobby)

  • Reading something that changed your perspective in a positive way

  • Drinking more water and/or eating more healthily

  • Taking control of your finances (even if you’re just at the start of that journey)

  • Completing a course (online, through work, or in an educational institution)

  • Generally becoming more organised

  • Developing a healthier sleep routine

  • Giving up smoking

Our Take Away

Navigating the festive season with a positive mindset is achievable with intentional strategies and self-compassion. By acknowledging the prevalence of loneliness during this time and implementing these practices, you can cultivate a sense of joy, connection, and fulfillment. Remember, the holiday season is an opportunity for self-reflection, gratitude, and the creation of meaningful moments that contribute to your overall well-being.

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