How to find the joy in Christmas (when you feel you can’t)

Christmas is often synonymous with joy. But why is this emotion so crucial during this time, and what makes it significant from a mental health perspective?

Joy at Christmas isn’t just about temporary happiness or merriment. It’s a profound sense of wellbeing and contentment that can significantly impact our mental health. The holiday season, with its emphasis on togetherness, kindness, and gratitude, provides a unique opportunity to experience and cultivate this deep-seated emotion.

In the realm of mental health, joy acts as a powerful counterbalance to stress, anxiety, and depression, which can often escalate during the holidays due to financial pressures, family dynamics, or loneliness. Experiencing joy helps release neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, contributing to feelings of pleasure and wellbeing. This biochemical reaction is crucial for maintaining our mental health, as it can improve mood, increase resilience, and even strengthen the immune system.

Moreover, joy at Christmas carries significant cultural and personal meaning. It’s a time to reconnect with the essence of our humanity—celebrating life, love, and connections. This deep emotional experience helps us reflect on what truly matters, fostering a sense of purpose and fulfillment that transcends the holiday season.


Tips on How to Feel More Joyful at Christmas


To enhance the experience of joy during Christmas, consider these tips:

Prioritise Self-Care: Amidst the hustle and bustle, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Engage in activities that relax and rejuvenate you. This could be reading a book, taking a walk, or simply enjoying a quiet cup of tea.

Set Realistic Expectations: The ‘perfect’ Christmas depicted in movies and ads is often an unrealistic standard. Accept that imperfections are normal and focus on what truly brings you joy.

Practice Gratitude: Reflect on the things you are thankful for. Gratitude has been linked to increased happiness and reduced depression.

Connect with Others: Share time with loved ones, but also remember that connecting can mean reaching out to someone who might be alone during the holidays.

Give Back: Volunteering or helping those in need can provide a profound sense of joy and fulfillment.

Create Traditions: Engage in activities that have personal significance to you and your family. Whether it’s baking cookies, singing carols, or watching a favorite movie, traditions can create lasting memories and a sense of belonging.


How Can We Share Joy with Others at Christmas?


Sharing joy is not just about giving physical gifts; it’s about creating moments of connection and kindness. Here are some ways to spread joy:

Be Present: In interactions with others, try to be fully present. Listen actively and engage genuinely.

Small Acts of Kindness: Sometimes, the smallest gesture can bring the most joy. A heartfelt compliment, a handwritten note, or a helping hand can make a big difference.

Donate or Volunteer: Consider giving your time or resources to those in need. Helping others can spread joy and create a ripple effect of goodwill.

Host Gatherings: If possible, host a small gathering or reach out to those who might be spending the holiday alone.

Share Memories and Stories: Sharing stories of past joyous experiences can be uplifting and strengthen bonds.

Encourage and Support: Be a source of encouragement and support for those around you, particularly those who may be struggling during this season.

Joy at Christmas is more than just a fleeting feeling; it’s a vital component of our mental wellbeing. By understanding its importance, actively seeking it, and sharing it with others, we can transform the holiday season into a time of profound happiness and health.

Remember, the true spirit of Christmas joy lies in the simple, heartfelt moments of connection and kindness. Let’s embrace and spread this joy, for a truly fulfilling and mentally healthy holiday season!