While not everyone celebrates the “holidays” many people observe Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, Boxing Day, Solstice, New Year’s and more! While you may abstain, I think we can agree that this time of year certainly is “The Holidays.” To celebrate people often give gifts, as signs of gratitude, appreciation, love and well…sometimes obligation. Yet, when you stop to think about it, the greatest gift we all have this year, and frankly, every year, is ourselves. Yes, YOU are your greatest gift. You are the body and mind that makes you, you! You are the character and personality that only you can glean! Perhaps Fred Rogers says this best, “As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has- or ever will have- something inside that is unique to all time. It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.” And while we agree that YOU are valuable and have something to offer that is unique…we also think that it’s also your job to help yourself realize and value that! And what better time to gift yourself a little Happy Holi-YOU this season.

As you venture into this Holi-YOU season, we think it best that it starts with a time to pause, reflect and praise. Give yourself some time to really stop and think on who you are right now and give yourself the gift of gratitude this season. What are you grateful for? Your strong body? Your creative mind? Your warm home? Your career? Your pets? Your meaningful relationships?  Even if your year wasn’t filled with health and warmth, perhaps you lost a job, pet or even a meaningful relationship, there is always something to be grateful for. Start small, this paper in your hand, the coffee you had this morning, keep listing all the things that make you grateful and that you appreciate? Why? Well, gratitude has been shown to help reduce anxiety!

Yes, the gift of gratitude is as Cousin Eddie says in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, “The gift that keeps on giving!” When we practice gratitude, it sends a signal to the brain that releases feel-good chemicals in the body and helps to regulate the not so feel-good thoughts, emotions and worries. This practice can gift you instant gladness! You may be saying to yourself, “So just think about things I am grateful for, and I will magically feel better?” Well, maybe not “magically,” but scientifically YES! Now imagine if you did this each time you started to get anxious and worried. Imagine if you took a few moments of gratitude gifting before you got out of bed, before each menial task, before each meal, before you go to sleep? Can you imagine if you could literally trigger happiness throughout the day with just your thoughts?

Another great way to celebrate the Holi-You Days is by finding ways to make YOU the focus of your day! Whether you wake up and head to work each morning or maybe you are at home, how can you make YOU a focus of your day? Ask yourself, what do I like to do, wear, eat? How do I like to move, take breaks and set up my surroundings?  If you were planning a day for a friend, you would want it to be filled with what they love, right? When it’s the holidays we treat special people to things they adore or treat them, right? Why not give that gift to yourself? People who feel comfortable in their own skin, clothes and space can perform at a higher capacity. People who find movement they enjoy and breaks that give them what they need to “break,” have better control over their moods and choices. What if each day was a new gift to “treat yo’ self?” In Parks and Recreation Season 4, writer Alan Yang introduced Treat Yo’ Self Day in Episode 4, “Pawnee Rangers.” He says: “Treat. Yo. Self. Once a year, Donna and I spend a day treating ourselves. What do we treat ourselves to? Clothes. Treat yourself. Fragrances. Massages. Treat yourself. Mimosas. Fine leather goods…It’s the best day of the year.” Instead of just one day of access, find little ways each day to “treat yo self.” After all, we often wish the holiday spirit would last all year, right?

Another way to celebrate the Holi-You days is to think about what you need now. Perhaps you miss being able to care for others, maybe caring for a new plant would help? Maybe you miss the encouragement from friends now that you work from home? Do something that will make you feel proud later. Maybe you know you aren’t feeling as agile because you aren’t moving enough; get moving at least once a day! Think about things that bring you peace and enjoyment. If you love reading, make the time. If you love to cook, go buy the ingredients and preheat the oven already! This isn’t just the Holi-You days, it’s your life, enjoy it!

We all know that the person who is the most stressed and stretched thin isn’t winning anything! This season be the one who wins by taking care of yourself. Find gratitude everywhere you can. Look for opportunities to “treat yo self,” and make your own preferences a priority. It may mean listening to your favorite music while hiding from your kids, or even getting out your old stash of crafts. There are no rules to this if these things make you feel as special, unique, and valuable as you are. Happy Holi-You Days!


Mary Hoadley

Director of The Wellness Center