12 Simple Joys To Celebrate This Holiday

by Kristen Bevill, MD

Dr. Bevill is a board certified psychiatrist experienced in adolescent, adult, and geriatric psychiatry.

This holiday, my wish is that everyone will take time to slow down and celebrate the season with the wisdom that comes with age. Senior adults more than anyone appreciate that every day is a gift and that true joy is often found in the simplest of pleasures.

Whether you spend the holidays with or without loved ones or close friends, these activities can help you create feelings of wellbeing, cherish fond memories, and connect with acquaintances new and old.

1. Take a Walk in The Sun - Exercise and Vitamin D are natural mood-boosters, and you don't have to go far or fast to get the benefits of both. While you're out, make it a point to smile and wish glad tidings to all you pass, and bask in the human kindness of every reciprocal greeting.

2. Volunteer - Your time is a precious gift that when given to others can make a difference in your life as well as in the lives of those you help. There are opportunities to match virtually any interest. Contact the library, hospital, local churches, and other community service organizations for information.

3. Share a Favorite Cookie Recipe - If the grandkids aren't around, ask a friend or neighbor over to help you bake. Then enjoy sharing the results, or donating your handiwork to a local health care facility or ministry.

4. Write a Heartfelt Letter - There's something about getting your thoughts and feelings down on paper that just feels good. Whether you choose to mail your letter or not is entirely up to you.

5. Contact An Old Friend - Reconnecting with someone with whom you've shared great experiences is a wonderful opportunity to recapture the feelings of happy times.

6. Get Out the Photo Albums - Treasuring memories of people and places no longer present can both fill our hearts and help us work through feelings of loss. You can also make that stroll down memory lane a meaningful experience by sharing your family's history and stories with your children and grandchildren.

7. Re-read a Favorite Book - Escaping into a great book is a great way to relax and take your mind off the hubbub of the holidays. Oftentimes going back, you'll discover something new or interpret something differently.

8. Get In The Game - If you're missing family or friends to play with, meet and make new friends over card or board games, quilting, or exercise classes at a Senior Citizen's Center in Collins or Mount Olive. The important thing is to enjoy the social interaction.

9. Take a Day Trip - Hattiesburg is just a short, scenic drive down US 49. Get some friends together or go alone and make a day of enjoying the unique shops and restaurants.

10. Be a Secret Santa - Doing something good feels good - and gift giving doesn't have to be lavish to make your heart feel light. Whether you give through a local charity drive like the Marine's Toys for Tots or the Salvation Army's Angel Tree, or just know of an individual, family or child in need, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing your anonymous gift brought joy to someone else.

11. Gift Yourself - There's nothing wrong with enjoying a little self-indulgence over the holidays. It can be as simple as treating yourself to a special meal out, or buying a little something you always wished to receive.

12. Worship or Meditate - Attending faith-based events or just reflecting on the gifts present in your life, be it family or friends, a special talent or skill, your home or health, can help you appreciate and celebrate the joy of the season.

However you choose to celebrate this holiday season, I hope you ignore the media hype about holiday depression. Studies have found that the joy and good feelings around the holidays tend to have a buffer effect, and that the rate of depression actually peak between the late winter months and early spring.

The key is to avoid social isolation by seeking out community, religious, or social opportunities to find companionship and support.

If you do find yourself feeling sad or depressed over the holiday, it's okay. The important thing is to acknowledge your feelings, and to know that you're not alone and treatment is available.

Brightside is an intensive outpatient program located on the Covington County Hospital campus that specializes in helping senior adults with clinical depression regain as much personal vitality as possible.

To schedule a free evaluation, call 601-765-4600.