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Turn Holiday Blahs into Ahs

Party and celebrate to your heart's content during your wintertime festivities by checking out these eight ways to keep the stress low and cheerful feelings high.

Rob Harmon
November 28, 2018

Holiday parties full of food and drink. Gift giving and merry exchanges. Family get-togethers and office-party memories. All of it can truly add up to the best of times. However, when the stress involved from planning and participating mounts, things can go sour quickly.

For most, the holidays are chock full of fun and memory making. Yet, for others, days like Christmas and New Year’s Day bring back painful memories of loved ones who have passed on. Add to all that, the sheer effort that goes into making the holidays just right can really take all the fun out of it.

During the holiday season, stress can skyrocket, making it a dreadful time that you wish could just come and go. Even if you’re really looking forward to those magical wintertime festivities, it can still be pretty stressful to try to pull off everything. Don’t let something that’s supposed to be fun become more work than enjoyment. Party and celebrate to your heart’s content during your wintertime festivities by checking out these eight ways to keep the holiday stress low and cheerful feelings high.

Plan ahead
Make an itinerary for your holiday season, even if you won’t be doing any traveling. You’ll accomplish more of what you want to do and less of what you don’t. The old saying is true, especially during the holidays, that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. When are the relatives coming over? How many will there be? What time is dinner and does it fit the football game? When will you open gifts? The more you map out, the less stress unanswered questions can cause.

Get plenty of rest
Don’t sacrifice sleep in order to make the holidays the most amazing time. The opposite is likely to happen if you fail to get plenty of rest. Tired minds and bodies are at their most vulnerable to illness and emotional breakdowns. During the holidays, when feelings can already be strong and when flu and cold season is at its most potent, you’ll want to get to bed early and give your body all the rest it needs. Hosting parties and making large meals can really take it out of you.

Boost your mood with sunlight
Whether you make the choice to spend time outdoors or beside a big window, catching some rays from the sun is a highly underestimated way to boost your mood and avoid the pitfalls of holiday stress. When you’re feeling good, it’s harder for anything that could happen during the holidays to get you down. Those feel-good neurotransmitters, like serotonin and others, are given a boost when the sun hits your skin. Get all the sun you can during the winter months and you’ll rise above most holiday stressors that come your way.

Holiday self-acupressure
What? Stick needles in myself just before Aunt Fran arrives and I’ll be OK? No needles required. Ever heard of the hoku spot? It’s the fleshy part of your hand between your index finger and the thumb and it’s a really good stress reducer if you know what to do with it. Just apply firm and focused pressure there with a pinch from your other hand and you’ll send a magical message to the rest of your body that it’s time to relax. Tense nerves and headaches can be alleviated quickly by applying a little holiday self-acupressure.

Enjoy more by doing less
Just like an over-packed vacation can take all the fun out of it because you’re doing way more than you should, the same applies to the holiday season. If every waking minute is jam-packed with parties night after night and one family get-together after another without any time in between to recoup, then you’ll quickly find yourself regretting you signed up for any of it. When the white elephant gift games become a burden, then it may be time to slow down. Many times, during the holidays, less is more. Savor the moments. Don’t pack every moment so tight that there’s no time to breathe.

Create a new tradition
Holding onto old traditions can sometimes become more work than they’re worth. Whatever that may be for you and your family, replace it with a new tradition that could be more fun and exciting and create a new dynamic to your holiday experience. For example, if it’s just not fun anymore to you to go pick out a tree and fight for weeks to keep it alive, maybe take that time to deliver a turkey to someone less fortunate as a new tradition.

It’s been proven that aromas can alter our moods. Why not try a little aromatherapy during the holidays? Use a nice candle with a passive smell that peacefully wafts through the entryway. Or use a more pervasive Scentsy warmer that fills the whole house with an aroma. Whatever you use, if done right, it can be used to create a sense of belonging in a stress-free home that affects the entire holiday season. Sometime a nice fire in the fireplace accomplishes the same thing.

We know, we know. Exercise is what you do at the beginning of the year. But why wait, especially when a good brisk Saturday morning walk or a Sunday afternoon jog can get the blood flowing and the endorphins kicking in. Exercise is the No. 1 de-stressor for many Americans. Why not take advantage of its amazing qualities during one of the most stressful times of the year?