How to Avoid Becoming a Grinch This Holiday Season

Dec 9, 2010 at 3:45 pm

It's so easy to succumb to Grinch-ish-ness this time of year. It's dark, it's cold and you can't go anywhere without hearing fake-cheerful Muzaked Christmas songs. This all makes you especially vulnerable to the good sad songs, like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" or "I'll Be Home for Christmas", the ones that stab you in the heart and make you want to kill yourself.

Sometimes it's better just to harden your heart. "You're a Mean One, Mister Grinch" is nice and swingy and makes a good personal soundtrack, particularly as sung by Boris Karloff: "You have all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile!"

But now the nursing faculty at the University of Missouri, damn them, has prescribed way to overcome Grinch-ish tendencies during the holidays, all based on research they've conducted over the past year.

COLUMBIA, Mo. - To avoid Grinch-like tendencies during this holiday season, University of Missouri health experts offer tips to promote well-being.

  • "Lower your expectations," said Kellie Shuck, adjunct clinical faculty in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. "Attempting to achieve the perfect holiday will cause stress and set people up to fail. Remember that nothing is perfect, so embrace what you have!"
  • "Take 45 minutes and make an afternoon visit to an older person in your neighborhood during the holiday season," said Marilyn Rantz, Curators' Professor in the Sinclair School of Nursing. "Sometimes the simplest things - sharing a cup of coffee and some fresh holiday fruits - can be uplifting for both of you. Oranges, tangerines and other treats often spark conversation about holidays from years past when these fruits were real highlights for many families. Reminiscence is fun for both and visits are much appreciated by older persons - not to mention the positive health benefits of the fruits!"
  • "Be clear about what you can and cannot do," said Constance Brooks, adjunct associate professor in the nursing school and instructor in the Master of Public Health Program. "Determine limitations and boundaries, and focus on living one day at a time to simplify your life. Be honest each day with yourself and with others. Then, let go of any emotional attachments to specific outcomes."

    "Remember simple gifts may be the most important gifts we can give," Brooks said. "In the blog, 'Thoughts from Wayne,' Wayne Mueller says these gifts can include simply doing no harm, refraining from judging ourselves and others, eliminating sarcasm and anger, and refraining from hurtful speech or actions. These gifts greatly contribute to healing ourselves and others."

  • "Be thankful for your family," said Clark Peters, assistant professor in the school of Social Work. "Each year, 29,000 foster youths become adults. These young people face tremendous challenges in negotiating life on their own, and most spend the holidays without their biological or adoptive families."

These tips are based on findings from MU research conducted throughout the year. For more information, visit: