6 Ways to Ensure Your Holidays are Happy and Stress-Free

With the words “joy”, “merry”, and “cheer” broadcast in every direction, it’s hard to forget that the holidays are a season dedicated to happiness. Yet somewhere among the Black Friday crowds and overbearing relatives, uplifting adjectives can give way to stress, exhaustion, and overwhelm.

Reclaim your right to happiness throughout the holidays this year by taking control and putting seasonal stress in its place.

These 6 tips for busting holiday burnout will help to boost your mood and ensure that the truly joyful moments of the season don’t pass you by.

Stress-Busting Tip #1: Be a Secret Santa

Giving is its own gift. Beyond all the obligatory giving that’s expected of you this season, find an opportunity to do a secret good deed for someone who deserves it. Whether it’s for your partner or a neighbor you barely know, perform an act of kindness that you can finish without being caught. Shovel the snow from someone else’s driveway. Tuck a coffee shop gift card under a windshield wiper with an anonymous note. You get the point.

Stress-Busting Tip #2: Take a Breather

When stress hits hard, your fight-or-flight response kicks into high gear, causing tense muscles and headaches and weakening your immune system. Reverse these effects by taking a few 4-7-8 breaths. That is, breathe in through your nose for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7, and exhale through your mouth for a count of 8.

These slow, intentional breaths are a call to your parasympathetic nervous system, easing your body quickly.

Stress-Busting Tip #3: Express Yourself

When miscommunications lead to disappointments, resentment and hurt can hijack what should have been time enjoyed together. Communicate openly and honestly about your expectations with your partner, family, friends, and colleagues so that expectations are not assumed.

Stress-Busting Tip #4: Get Outside

Seasonal Affective Disorder can drag down your mood despite your best efforts, particularly in northern latitudes where waning sunlight can be hard to find. Getting outdoors during the daytime hours reinvigorates the spirit. If it’s too nasty to actually spend time outside, get the next best thing and have lunch by a window.

Stress-Busting Tip #5: Say No

With parties, outings, and the occasional extravaganza filling your calendar, overwhelm is often inevitable. While it’s great to make room for spontaneity and a few extra late nights this time of year, fear of missing out can often lead us to overextend ourselves. Be deliberate about the activities and events that are most important to you, and be judicious about others—you are not the Energizer Bunny.

Stress-Busting Tip #6: Make a Date

Who is the person in your life who helps you forget that stress is even a thing? Someone you have so much fun with you lose track of time? Text him or her and set a date to get together after both of your hectic holiday calendars lighten up, sometime in January.

Plan something that the two of you can enjoy fully, whether a day at the spa, drinks and a concert, or a movie marathon on the couch. Whatever it is, get it in your calendar. Knowing that you have an exciting day planned with one of your favorite people will give you something to look forward to when you need it.

Continue Reading