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« Is Balance Important? | Moment of Balance »

5 Tips for More "Happy" in Holiday

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.





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  • Response
    Response: 'Tis the Season
    Adjust your expectations. Done is better than perfect. (Repeat this as often as needed.) Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to complete something, and then let it go. Reality check: the homes in magazines and on TV don't have actual people living in them.

Reader Comments (32)

Linda - Great post! Love the "joy detective" phrase. :-)

Along the same lines, I just posted an article called "Organize to Minimize Holiday Chaos" . I think a lot of us want to have a peaceful and joyous holiday with much less stress!

Happy Holidays & Happy New Year!

Warmly ~ Lisa

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Montanaro

Renee- Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful post with great tips for taking the stress out of the holidays. All your tips are useful. My two favorites are "Adjust your expectations," and "Keep your perspective." Those in particular resonated with me.

December 9, 2011 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Lisa- I appreciate you stopping by to share your article that appeared in the Poughkeepsie Journal about minimizing chaos during the holidays. Your wisdom and great tips shine through. Your emphasis on practicing good organizational and time management strategies to reign in the chaos makes a lot of sense. I like how you encourage your readers to pick one thing to say "No" to.

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

I LOVE this post - how often do we rotely say "happy holidays" while rushing through December!

For some nitty gritty practical ways to save time and have less stress this season, check out my tips at

scroll down a bit to read them.

Wishing everyone happy, easy, joyful holidays!


December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Zaslow

Lisa Z- So great that you stopped by. Thank you for your positive feedback AND for sharing the link to your FABULOUS time saving tips for the holidays. They are clever, doable and stress-less. Great ideas including "Presto Presents, " "Instant Wrapping," and "Food without Fuss." And love your overriding message about the holiday season being to "feel blessed, not stressed." Nice!

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

My favorite is good self care. We really get out of whack with staying up late to wrap gifts, indulging in all the treats and over inbibe in adult beverages. Thanks for sharing the awareness of how to enjoy the joy!

December 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

Ellen- You're so right about the importance of focusing on good self-care, especially during the holidays when we can so easily get pulled off track. I so appreciate you stopping by and sharing your thoughts of calm and wisdom. You always have so many good things to add to the conversation.

December 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

It's hard to pick a favorite because each of your tips resonates deeply with me. Being a joy detective speaks about the choices we make and joy can be a choice. I know that when I focus on what makes me feel warm and cozy inside, the stress melts away. It becomes easier to balance the extremes and go with the flow of things. Joy softens the edges, sort of speak.

Thank you for sharing your inspiring perspective and for the invitation to share our own.

Here's the link to an old and tested recipe of mine for "Chasing the frenzy away."

Wishing you a light-filled holiday season ♥


December 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterYota Schneider

Yota- Thank you for joining in the conversation and contributing your special "recipe" for chasing away the holiday frenzy. I encourage everyone to follow your link to read your words filled with sage wisdom and humor. I always enjoy reading your unique way of writing about life. You ask great questions to get the brain thinking.

December 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

The joy detective and experience gifts are GREAT ideas. I just love this post! I wrote a similar post about decreasing holiday meltdowns for kids...and just letting them happen!

December 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPractical Parenting

Katie (aka Practical Parenting)- Thank you for stopping by to join the conversation AND share your awesome post (link) about kids, meltdowns and holiday stress. I love the way you write in an honest, no non-sense way. Your post is a must read for all parents. In addition, you have great reminders even for the non-parents to focus on what is truly important during the holidays. It's not about the stuff, but the special time spent together.

December 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Wellness coach, Hillary Rubin shares great tips about keeping sane during the holidays. She gave me permission to share a link to her post. Enjoy!

Thank you, Hillary.

December 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Love tips! And, once again, love the colorful picture! Here are my tips - in article form!

December 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTracy Hoth

Tracy- Thank you so much for your persistence in trying to leave a comment with a link to your great tips on this post. I know you experienced a few technical glitches due to something on my end. I apologize for any difficulty you had and so much appreciate you forging forth and sharing your wonderful tips. They are a valuable addition to the collection this amazing group has so generously shared. Of course all your tips are great, but #8 especially resonates with me - "finding the joy in each task you do!" Now that's the true spirit of the holiday season!

December 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Linda , I really enjoyed you tips for putting the "Happy" in Holiday. I have a few more here on my blog as well.
And a very HAPPY Holiday wish to you.
Colette Robicheau

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterColette Robicheau

Colette- Thank you for joining the conversation and adding your wonderful tips to the mix. You have an assortment of great posts on your blog about helping the holidays to run more smoothly and with less stress. I liked them all, especially "Surviving Holiday Stress" and "Enjoying a Minimalist Holiday." You're shared so much and I encourage everyone to visit your blog.

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Simplifying is the best way to be happy in the holidays! Find joy in the simplicity of the season!

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

Ellen- Simplifying can be a key. We can put too much pressure on ourselves to overdo everything from food to buying to partying to decorating. "Less" can add some happy back into the mix. Wishing you and yours a beautifully joyful season.

December 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Linda: Love this post! I'm already on most of this, but I loved the Joy Detective! That could work all year long, but this holiday season is a great time to start the habit. Much joy to you this holiday season, Linda.

December 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobin Blinder

Robin- Wonderful to hear from you and thank you for your positive words. As you said, it's a great time of year to begin the habit of joy seeking. Wishing you and your family a beautiful holiday season.

December 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

It is all too easy to be overwhelmed with the activities, the to-do lists, the crowds and the noise of this time of year. Your suggestions are spot-on. Find the spiritual core and keep it in front of you. Remembering what's important puts everything else in perspective. I love your image of a "joy" detective (Sherlock Holmes hat optional).

December 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDenise Lee

Denise- Oh, yes. That overwhelm can creep in VERY quickly, IF we aren't careful. Great image you've offered up with the Sherlock Holmes hat. Love it!

December 2, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

This post is such a great reminder. Especially, not going too far off your normal routine. I have a tendency to do this in December. To get me back on schedule during this month, I make sure I am present and am enjoying all the tasks not just go through them to get them done and over with. It helps a lot.

December 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

I love your five tips! The traditions one is so important. I often tell clients that they don't need to feel pressured to complete every tradition, every year. Each year is unique, and it is wise to pick and choose the traditions that fit the situation of the year. In fact, often it is the unplanned and unexpected that end up being our most treasured holiday memories!

December 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

I was unofficially assigned the task of "joy detective" last week - I'm doing a daily photo challenge, and the prompt one dull day was "finding joy." I set out with low expectations, but was able to meet the challenge with this:!

December 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

I love this post. I'm still feeling a bit off of my routine since the chaos of Thanksgiving, and now Christmas is almost upon us! I like your reminders to do the simple but necessary things, like daily exercise and healthy eating. Whenever I let my routine slide for too long, I feel too discombobulated to even enjoy the fun stuff!

December 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBethany Welborn

I think excess eating is a big one for me. eating the wrong foods that upset my system, so i set myself a limit of things to eat. Makes for a happier stomach and in turn a better time.

December 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJill Robson

@Sabrina- Love your centering technique of staying present. It sure helps to create more joy in the every day moments (holiday-ladened or not.)

@Seana- I miss some of our family traditions that have gone away. But adding new ones and treasuring those...or being open to how new ones evolve helps. One of the "new" traditions that happened in the last few years is on Thanksgiving. We usually host the family. In between the BIG meal and dessert, everyone (well almost everyone) gets outside and takes a walk in the woods. It's a wonderful time to bond, have intimate conversations, get some fresh air, and make room for the best part of the meal :)

@Janet- What a beautiful and "joy-full" photo. I love the dots of red against that lovely white sky. Isn't it amazing what we can discover when we're looking for the joy that's right in front of us?

@Bethany- It's a whirlwind of a seasonal transition going from Thanksgiving to Christmas (followed by New Year's!) And as you expressed, altered routines and chaos seem to be part of this time of year. Finding a little corner of "simple" or getting back to even one routine really does help to bring us back so that we can enjoy all the wonders that ARE part of this season.

@Jill- I love that idea of being mindful of what we eat so that we can have a "happier stomach." You're so wise. This season of holidays and eating can tempt the strongest of us. Knowing yourself AND your stomach can help to avoid that feeling of upsetting your system.

Happy, joy-filled holidays to all!

December 5, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I love your point about revisiting traditions. In our big, Polish family, we get together every year the Saturday before Christmas and make pierogi. Over the last decade we've tweaked the evening, by cutting down our varieties and cutting back the number we make. With so many aging aunts, uncles and cousins we've taken into consideration stamina and health issues. Nonetheless we still bring everyone together and have a great time!

December 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Soboleski

@Sarah- What a beautiful image of having all generations of your family in the kitchen making pierogi together. And lovely to think that the recipes are being passed on this way. I love too how you've altered the expectations of the special day to accomodate the family. It still sounds wonderful...and SO delicious. I love pierogi!

December 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

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