Lately I’ve noticed an abundance of tweets and blogs about ways to reduce stress during the holiday season. What is it about this time of year that can make us feel frazzled and overwhelmed? Don’t we love this season? It’s punctuated with catchy holiday music playing everywhere, colorful decorations and lights, wonderful aromas like pine and clove, and the anticipation of going to fun parties, and enjoying special celebrations with our family and friends.
Yet even with all these positive things, this season can also bring on the stress… big time. Here are my best 5 tips for sprinkling your holidays with some happy.
1. Be a “Joy” Detective – We find what we seek. Shift your focus to the parts of this season that you enjoy like singing holiday songs at the top of your lungs, wrapping presents with glittery ribbons, having time with family, or dressing-up in your sparkliest of clothes. Be on the lookout for joy-inducing opportunities. Then stop long enough to appreciate your discoveries.
2. Simplify Gift Giving – Buying and receiving gifts can be stressful. Make this season happier and more meaningful by giving clutter-less gifts. Give experiences instead of things like tickets to a play, day trip at a nearby town, or dinner and a movie. Not only will the recipient appreciate that they won’t have to make room in their home for your gift (hence clutter-less), but your shared time together will create stronger, happier relationships.
3. Practice Good Self-Care – If we ignore our basic needs like getting enough sleep, eating properly, drinking enough water, and exercising, it makes it more challenging to embrace all the happy opportunities. When we disregard our needs, we get cranky. During this season when excess can take over (less sleep, over-eating or too much alcohol), it’s easy to overlook the importance of self-care. To experience a happier season, don’t forget to be good to you.
4. Revisit Traditions – Traditions can bring us great joy. There are many reasons why they get modified or disappear completely. Kids grow up, family members pass away, or friends move. To harness the happy, acknowledge what was and consider refining or creating new traditions if needed. During the holidays, our family used to gather in the Catskills for a giant sleepover at my in-laws. They have both passed away and the rest of the family has moved. To keep the connection, we’re looking at ways to create new traditions. If your traditions are still in place, pay attention to the happiness that accompanies them.
5. Balance the Extremes – It’s hard to think about any kind of balance during this season of extremes with its late nights, excess eating, more visitors than usual, suspended routines, and crazy travel adventures. Many things seem to take a “vacation” or hiatus during this time. If the scale has tipped a bit too far and you’re feeling completely out of kilter, add a few things back in to restore the balance. It might be as simple as taking some deep breaths, locking yourself in a room for ten minutes, or going out for a quick walk. Recognize that the holidays aren’t like every day. Don’t be surprised. Instead, bring back the happy through shifting the balance back closer to center.
I’d love to hear from you. What is your favorite tip for bringing the happy to the holiday season? If you’ve written a post about it, please share it with us and include a link with your comments.