By Pamella Bello and Kathy Day

The holidays can bring intense feelings of both happiness and sadness. We can carry on traditions, enjoy good food and socialize with friends and family. On the other side, we can experience stress regarding money, balancing shopping, cooking and daily responsibilities. Below are suggestions to help us find joy and peace this holiday season.

CHOOSE HAPPINESS. Decide to enjoy the holidays. Making a deliberate choice will increase the likelihood this will occur. Think of how a child delights in the wonders of this time of year and strive to capture some of those moments.

BE GRATEFUL. Focusing on the things you are grateful for will push negative thoughts from your mind. “Gratitude is the healthiest of all emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” Zig Ziglar

PRACTICE GENEROSITY. When we perform simple acts of kindness without expecting anything in return, we will experience positive feelings in mind and body.

MEDITATE. This can help you stay in the moment and even develop optimism, enjoying the present, not worrying about the past or the future. Fifteen minutes can refresh you enough to keep moving ahead.

EXERCISE. Participating in physical activity allows stress to leave our minds and bodies. Research shows exercising actually increases a person’s happiness. Exercise can improve your mental health, memory, and mood.

BE REALISTIC. Recognize you don’t have to do everything and what you do doesn’t have to be perfect. Don’t compare yourself to others. Focus on people, relationships and the happiness the holidays can bring.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and sad, find someone to share your thoughts and emotions with. Be aware of the many resources that are available in our community. If needed, seek professional help or visit  www.mentalwellnessalliance.org.