12 Holiday Stress Relievers and Happiness Keepers

By Coach Mel

The holidays should be a time of family, thankfulness, reuniting, smiling, good food, laughing, and happiness. How many of these things are ACTUALLY true for you? 

The day that the last of the Thanksgiving turkey was put in the Tupperware to be forgotten about marks both the end of one holiday and the beginning of a whole new season. If you think I am talking about Christmas, you are wrong. I am talking about the season of stress. Rushing around, over-committing, worrying about gifts and cards for people you haven’t actually spoken to in years. So that you have something better to respond than, “Super-busy!” when someone asks how you are doing, I present you with:

The REAL 12 Days of Christmas… 12 ways to keep the stress down and the happiness up through the holidays.

  1. Be thankful. Bottom line - if you are reading this blog, you. are. SO. LUCKY. Many of us donate food, clothing, gifts, or money during the holidays. Be sure this act is not just something to cross off a list. Think about it - When donating money think, “Oh my goodness I have extra money to just give away.” When you donate a blanket think, “Wow, I can get warm whenever I want to… in my car, under all my blankets, by my fire, in my bed. I have all these warm options!” If you donate food think, “Whoa, how many snacks did I eat today just because I was bored?” Be freaking thankful.
  1. Breathe. Take a deep breath. Seriously. Everything will be fine.
  1. Give a hug! Did you know that a 20 second hug raises your oxytocin levels, which reduces stress and blood pressure? Just ask permission first. Trust me.
  1. Smile. I once did an “experiment” where I smiled at every person whose eyes made contact with mine in a day. This will be the best and creepiest thing you do that day. But seriously, even if you are stressed and angry just smile at someone because they will probably smile back and it really makes you feel a little better.
  1. Put your phone away and don’t look at it for at least an hour every day.  This shouldn’t be a long time but it probably would be a challenge for all of us.  Disconnecting can greatly reduce stress and force “me” or better quality family time.
  1. Make a BIG salad. Guys, when was the last time you can think of a bunch of vegetables you ate at one time? Holiday parties, friends in town, working late, Christmas cookies. The dirty truth is that vegetables are few and far between during the holidays. It might seem like all unhealthy food and indulgences will make you feel less stressed and better because-you-do-what-you-want but your insides think otherwise. Without getting too preachy here: your blood sugar is going crazy, your body is stressed from dealing with all the “holiday” food you are pouring into it which is making you and your moods go haywire. Eat a salad.
  1. I will start the second half of this list with BE THANKFUL again. But seriously, man we are lucky. Just sit and think about it for awhile. And maybe think of a small thing you can do in a day to express it. Buy a snack for the homeless person outside the grocery store. Part with that dollar for someone who breaks your heart on the sidewalk. It can also be as simple as appreciating something or someone in your life somehow.
  1. Vitamin D. I want this one to be higher on the list but...The Pacific Northwest. It was sunny the other day and I literally ran outside and ripped off my jacket and stood in the rays as long as they were around. Alternatively,  you could also find a good Vitamin D supplement. Researchers are finding a strong link between deficiency and depression. So let’s get on this one.
  1. DIY gifts. Check our blog for a recent post on DIY gifts for ideas. Making your gifts will give you a bigger connection to the process, create family if you make it into a night, and save you money…
  1. Secret Santa groups. Have a big group of friends and stressing about the money and ideas for everyone? Suggest a Secret Santa exchange and you only have to worry about one gift… plus it’s really fun.
  1. Keep your normal routine as much as possible. Sure, we like to go to parties after work… and we should! But don’t feel like you have to do everything you’re invited to; still make time for yourself. Go to the gym, have healthy snacks on hand, keep your acupuncture appointment. Your life does not need to be turned upside down.
  1. Remind yourself daily - The holidays are a time of family, thankfulness, reuniting, smiling, good food, laughing, and happiness. How many of these things can you make true for you now?

I know Christmas is tomorrow but we all know this time of year is not the only time we let ourselves get overwhelmed for seemingly silly reasons. Hopefully, this can serve as a good reminder that, even if not everything is going exactly as planned, we all have aspects of our lives that are pretty dang good and we have control over our stress. Remember this list whenever you find yourself caught up in the frenzy of life.