5 Holiday Stress-busters

No need to feel overwhelmed this holiday season with these top tips to reduce stress

Let’s face it. The holidays can be stressful — the shopping, family, hosting, eating, parties, being alone… But you don’t need to feel overwhelmed. Here are the top 5 tips to bust holiday stress:

Focus on gratitude instead of perfection. It is easy to get caught up in all the craziness of the holidays, such a decorating every inch of the house or buying all those gifts. Try to keep things simple and focus on quality time with my family and friends. The goal is to experience more gratitude and appreciation for what we have, rather than on what you “should” be doing.

Find new traditions that work for you. Question how you have done things in the past that have brought distress and discontent. Don’t like going to your in-laws for a week? Then don’t. It is okay. This is your life and your family.

For example, I was working with a client who got so stressed out about preparing a big meal for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which had been a tradition in her family for years. So she decided to order take out on Christmas Eve. Her husband picked up the food, they made a fire and everyone enjoyed a wonderful, stress-free meal in their living room by the tree. Preparing the Christmas feast the next day was much more enjoyable for her, too.

Schedule a carrot. Schedule a reward for yourself after an event that may be stressful (such as a family event or going shopping). Knowing you have something positive to enjoy can help alter your mindset to “this may not be my favorite, but I know I will be getting a great massage tomorrow.”

Exercise. Research shows exercise can reduce stress and improve mood as effectively as anti-depressant medications. It also gives you lots of positive energy and helps ward off the holiday weight gain. Schedule time to exercise, whether going for a family walk or putting on some good music while you are home and dancing around.

Make it a family affair. Have the entire family be part of the holiday preparation and clean up. Children love to help in the kitchen, so put them to work setting the table or assisting with the food prep. Have everyone pitch in when cleaning up after the presents have been open. Then pop some popcorn and enjoy a movie all together.

Elizabeth LombardoElizabeth Lombardo, PhD, is a psychologist, physical therapist and author of the bestselling book A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. She has been quoted by some of today’s top media outlets including CNN, MSNBC, NPR, Woman’s Day, Glamour, Self, Woman’s World, Health and Real Simple. Visit www.AHappyYou.com for more information. And order A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness today!