The holidays are quickly approaching. (Or, have approached, depending on which holiday you celebrate.) At a time when we are supposed to be entering into the experience of celebrating with family and friends we are often entering the experience of “how much money do I have for bills now?”, “did I forget anyone?”, “I can’t believe I have to sit through this awkward family dinner, again”, or even as extreme as “I hate the holidays.”.

We often lose sight of what matters at this time of year. And more importantly, we lose out on what could be positive experiences. So, staying present in our interactions is extremely important. Our brains may be stressed but that doesn’t mean we have to stay stressed and unhappy.

Holiday Happiness Tips:

  • It sounds cheesy but practicing gratefulness every day is one powerful tool to help you realize the potential for happiness during the holidays. Make a commitment to writing two things you’re grateful for every day. For example, I am grateful that the snow I despise has not surfaced yet, and I am also grateful for spending more time with family. (They may not say the same for me- although the snow hasn’t surfaced, my sarcasm sure has! I could go into a million details of why I’m sarcastic but I will just accept it as my current sense of humour.) Reflecting on things you are grateful for will remind you that this is a stressful month but there are many things to appreciate.
  • A lot of people take vacation this time of year; an amazing idea to head to Florida or an all-inclusive resort. But even if you can’t leave your small town or busy city, take a mental vacation. I don’t mean ignore your problems or be annoyingly optimistic about the holidays. Rather, let yourself enjoy those moments that you genuinely are enjoying. And if you don’t enjoy anything about the holidays, then go stand in the middle of a mall on December 24th because you’re a Grinch and need to be acclimated to Christmas cheer. No, seriously, a mental vacation may be the decision to put off thinking about something stressful for even an hour and do something that makes you happy instead. (Such as watching Elf on repeat… not that I know anyone who does that…)
  • Watch your negative self-talk. This is important all year round but especially in the midst of potentially stressful situations. “I should have gotten him a blue sweater instead of green, I’m such an idiot”, “I have no one to be happy with this year, I’m lonely and a loser”, etc. We can be our worst critic. (Although, sometimes it’s that one family member who asks why you chose to gain so much weight. Perhaps explaining that Santa is your inspiration this time of year, or making a joke about needing extra padding in this blustery weather… okay, so good luck with those scathing comebacks.) But really, defend yourself even to yourself! Should haves and could haves are simply focusing on the past, and you want to stay in the present. So what if you’re 29, very single, and focused more on baking banana bread than having a family. (Although, in my mind a family of cats still constitutes as family!)

Relax during this holiday season, even when it can be a pain to get through. And in the worst case scenario, you can look forward to the holidays being over soon! (Unless of course you’re a North Pole Elf, which if you are and hate Christmas you should really think about changing careers…)

Wishing you all an impossibly stress-free happy holiday!

About the Author

Tara is a wellness blogger for the Local Biz Magazine who is in the process of writing her memoir on finding hope and meaning while living with a mental illness. Tara loves the concepts of positive psychology, incorporating them into every aspect of her life and spreading the message on the science of well-being.