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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Is the economy ruining your holiday season? 5 steps to a better holiday

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Nov 24th 2008

woman with santa hatMore than a million Americans lost their jobs this year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means that many people are going to have to face a new financial reality and it's going to be challenging to stomach. Not being able to afford the gifts we used to buy or the trips we used to take may trigger feelings of shame and guilt, especially if we have kids.

During the course of history, it's been the case that recessions come and go. As recessions come, we need to tighten our belts, so to speak, and often times change our spending habits, not fulfilling our material desires quite so much. During this time it is a mental health practice to give ourselves permission to scale back, understanding the reality of the situation, not just for you, but for millions of people. Although this recession may be hitting us on a personal level, it's important to understand that we are not alone, that many others are in the same boat.

So what can we all do?

The first step is to really understand that many are experiencing the same plight and we need to give ourselves permission to scale back.

The second step involves paying attention to Albert Einstein's famous quote "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity". So, "What's the opportunity here?". Too often in our culture we get trapped in a rat race of needing material things to feel good and happy. This is an opportunity to notice that cycle and practice detaching from it and cultivating creativity in deriving pleasure from new ways of giving gifts. 

The third step involves action. How do we give gifts this year?

  1. Meaningful - Pass down a family heirloom that has special meaning.

  2. Secret Santa - Whether you're celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanza - you can play a game where you throw your name into a hat and whoever you pick is the one present you buy for rather than buying presents for everyone.

  3. Staycation - If you are used to going away for the holidays, stay in town this year and go sightseeing as if you were a tourist.

  4. Food - Have a get together where the gifts are special home-baked foods.

  5. Time - Many people just want to spend time with others, so creating a coupon book that is filled with a handful of things that are gifts of spending time together (e.g., going on a walk, a massage, kissing, etc...) can be creative and wonderful.

What are you doing to be creative in these challenging economic times? Please feel free to comment below or ask question, as you have wisdom for all of us to share. Thank you.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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