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7 Ways to Fend Off Holiday Stress (and Stay Grateful!)

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By: Jordyn Cormier     November 30, 2015

The holidays are the most joyous time of the year, right? Well for some of us, what should be a pleasant season filled with laughter and mirth turns into a 90 day stress marathon. But do the holidays really have to be strangled by a glittering tinsel of stress? Absolutely not. Here are 7 tactics to fend off holiday stress and truly embrace the holidays.

Eat mindfully. Instead of stuffing your face — which is absurdly easy to do — really work on tasting your holiday treats. The holidays aren’t just about eating. Slow down, connect with your loved ones, make memories. Sure, food is a part of the equation, but that doesn’t mean you have to be constantly eating. Enjoy yourself mindfully and in moderation to skip the guilt that tends to accompany overindulging.

Make room for yourself. Everyone needs something during the holidays, and you may especially feel the pressure to give even more of yourself than usual. However, if giving your friend a ride to an appointment is going to throw off the rest of your day and flood your constricting vessels with stress, it’s best to practice saying ‘no’. Helping out loved ones is lovely, but you shouldn’t sacrifice your own well being to accommodate others. Treat yourself well, and then you’ll be able to treat your loved ones well. If you burn out, you’ve done a disservice to both yourself and those who rely on you. Make room for ‘you time’: take a bubble bath, go to yoga, see a concert, indulge in a trashy novel. Enjoy the season without spreading yourself too thin.

Stop worrying about money. If you’re a little low on spare cash this year, it can be easy to get swept up in the dismay of not being able to afford gifts for your loved ones. Don’t get sucked into the commercialism of the holidays. If you can afford nice gifts, great. If you cannot, use your ingenuity. Buy a book from a thrift store, make a piece of jewelry out of found items, craft a collage, write a song — explore your own creativity! Money isn’t everything, so stop stressing about it. It really is the thought that counts.

How to Stay Healthy at Christmas

Stay positive. Money, work, deadlines, relationships, crowded shopping centers, chores, bills, that incessant holiday music that’s been playing since Halloween — there are plenty of things that can get you irritated or down over the holidays. But, negativity is a vicious cycle and will only serve to increase your stress. Try to work on some self-affirmations or emotional resetting exercises. Your mind is a powerful tool that has the complete control to stop a cycle of negative thinking. Know this — you are good enough, your problems are not insurmountable, and holiday joy is all around you just waiting to be enjoyed. Use whatever works for you to get your outlook back on track. If imagining Ryan Gosling standing in front of you in a Santa cap is what keeps you with a positive outlook, hey, no one’s judging…

Stay humble. Feelings of humility and gratefulness have actually been shown to drastically improve your well being. Those who focus on their blessings rather than their obstacles are better equipped to handle stress. “…to the extent that gratitude, like other positive emotions, broadens the scope of cognition and enables flexible and creative thinking, it also facilitates coping with stress and adversity.” (source) Be regularly thankful for all that you have, and the world will seem a whole lot brighter and more manageable.

Be accepting of others. Everyone is different and beautifully unique. The holidays are a time to embrace these differences and celebrate them. Try to take a step back from disagreements and arguments and attempt to understand the other person’s perspective. Instead of getting bogged down by minor disputes, turn down your ego and try to come to a peaceful compromise. We are all very human and so very flawed. Let’s accept and celebrate that.

Accept yourself. Most of our stress and negativity comes from within. We may project it upon others, but we are much more capable of handling outside stress when we are happy with ourselves. This is a lifelong journey, but the sooner you learn to love the person you are, the happier and more peaceful your life will be. Let your true, positive self shine this holiday season and good vibes will bounce back.

Stress can be a difficult obstacle to acknowledge, and an even more difficult one to overcome. But don’t let it thwart the joy of the holidays! By practicing mindful techniques and focusing on the positive, you can be a glowing entity of holiday cheer rather than a furry little grinch. Feel the joy and enjoy the fruits of the holidays!

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