Christmastime is known as the greatest time of year—bright, twinkly lights are strewn across town, Santa Claus sits jolly on every corner, and the cheesy (yet catchy) holiday music is aplenty. Now, we all love a full-belly Santa laugh and singing along to “Jingle Bells”, but it’s easy to forget the true reason for the season: giving. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy an expensive gift for all of your loved ones and strangers alike: in fact, you don’t have to spend a penny. Instead, you should use this time to truly appreciate those around you and show them that appreciation in any way you see fit. A fruitcake made from the heart will do, as will a simple thank you.

While this sounds simple enough to some, it can be difficult to embrace for others—especially those going through a hard time this holiday season. These individuals have trouble spreading the cheer characteristic of December because they’re caught in a fog. Fortunately, however, there are a few ways to get out of this funk and simultaneously embrace the giving mentality that the Christmas season is all about:

1) Choose to be giving.

Actively deciding that you’re going to be giving sounds overly simple, but it’s where you need to start if you want to make a change. Of course, willpower alone probably won’t help you start feeling better and more giving, but you’ll be amazed at the difference this mentality can make as you take additional steps. Remember: you don’t have to spend your money on material things to be giving. You can give your time, your talent, a smile, and your heart. Receivers of these gifts will surely appreciate them, but the act of giving will help you even more.

2) Try your best to forgive.

Before you can start appreciating the good in life, you need to let go of the bad. Failing to let go of hurt plagues relationships and hangs over us more than it needs to—which just may be the reason for your inability to embrace the love this Christmas. So, rather than letting unspoken pain dwell within you, take the first step toward forgiving the people that have wronged you in some way. You may also find this useful for repairing the relationships with people you’ll be spending Christmas with, ensuring that the holiday won’t be damaged by bitter grudges.

3) Vow to focus on others.

We often fall into the habit of dwelling on the good (or bad) that is going on with us. But Christmastime is the perfect time to break this habit—to take a break from our own affairs and think about others. Take your aging parents out to dinner; volunteer at the homeless shelter and show that they’re not forgotten during the holidays; show up to your newly-single friend’s doorstep with a funny card and some Ben and Jerry’s. Every single one of these people would delight in being shown some love this December. And doing so may enable your perspective to expand and open your eyes to the things you’ve been taking for granted in your life.

4) Stay well, mentally and physically.

Focusing on others doesn’t mean to neglect your own wellbeing; appreciating the good in life comes naturally when you let yourself invite the good in. So, enjoy every second of your favorite movie; make time to exercise and relieve some of that negativity; take a bubble bath instead of fighting the urge; eat well; love your friends and family; and live an overall healthy lifestyle. Doing so will give your mind a much needed reboot and open it up to gratitude. You’ll also be free to focus further on having a positive impact on others.

5) Make plans for the future.

Once you’ve started thinking about the past and the coming new year, it’s great to start looking ahead. Acknowledge what you want to do in the next year and what goals you want to accomplish. Write them down and start working toward the good that is ahead of you.

On behalf of all of us at Thriveworks, we hope you have a joyful holiday season!

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