Ask Dr. Joy Miller: Holiday traditions

By WEEK Producer

December 5, 2012 Updated Dec 5, 2012 at 7:36 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Americans tend to dislike the materialism of the holidays, but they seem to have forgotten some of the holiday traditions that help bring people together. Tonight, we will look at some holiday traditions that just might bring some joy and happiness to your celebrations.

What is the importance of traditions?
* Traditions help bond us to others
* Traditions create a unity between groups, time spans, and ancestors
* Traditions create something that has meaning and value
* Traditions have the power of bringing comfort, safety and predictability

What are some suggestions for some new holiday traditions?
* Holiday dishes: Many times families are blended or holidays bring together families into one celebration. A joyful tradition would be to have each member bring a food / dish that was special to them during this holiday. This bonds participants to each other and unites their individual past
* Gift of yourself: We talk about giving at this time of the year, but most of us think of gifts. But giving is about opening our heart-perhaps this year consider gifts such as non-material items such as baking, offering baby sitting, donating time by volunteering, visiting someone in a nursing home, or collecting food for a community pantry.
* Reach out to those who may be alone. The holidays are difficult for those who have lost loved ones, who have no family in town, or those who are alone. Welcoming people into your home is a wonderful way to share your holiday traditions with others.

People want to be joyful, but more and more people find this time depressing and anxiety producing. Suggestions to avoid this:
* Make time to yourself. This is an active holiday season and it is important to schedule time for yourself to relax, work out, and find time for the things you need to relax
* Stay connected. There may be lots of parties, and lots of things for you to do, but it is important to stay connected and make time for your significant other. Too often, couples are caught up in finding the right presents, tasks, and decorating and forget to make time to connect with their partner
* Focus on the blessings. If you want true happiness this holiday season, make sure you focus on all of the things you have in your life. Look around and see how lucky you are and how many blessings surround you such as friends, family, good job, wonderful experiences, and freedom.

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