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10 Tips to Help You Get Through the Holidays with Less Stress and More Joy

Dennis Francis


At the time this was written, the world’s population had just passed 8 billion, and around the winter solstice, most countries have some kind of holiday celebration. That means that during the holidays, we will be expected to be happy. Yay! Of course, most people in the world don’t feel that way when they expect us to be having fun.

For many of us, the holidays are a time to dread family gatherings, annoying ads, and the need to shop. Here are my top 10 tips for getting through the winter with your ego in check, your anger under control, and a sense of contentment, if not holiday cheer.

10: Make A List

- Make a list of the holiday traditions you look forward to and try to do as many of them as you can. The holidays are special because they bring families together, help us make memories that will last a lifetime, and make us excited about what the future may hold. Even though there are many things to enjoy this time of year, here are a few traditions that may be especially important to you:

Spending time with friends and family. Spending time with loved ones is always a tradition that people look forward to, whether it’s exchanging Christmas gifts early or having dinner together on Christmas Day.

- Taking part in religious holidays (or celebrating any holiday regardless of religion). Sharing traditions from other parts of the world can make you feel at ease. This can be done by going to church or by helping at an organization that helps people in need during the holidays.

- Making gifts at home. No matter how much (or little) money you have to spend on gifts, it’s always nice to give personalized ones. Or bake cookies instead of buying them from the store for everyone in your family.

9: Get Your Diet Right

- Set a healthy holiday diet that includes vitamins and minerals and avoid eating too much sugar and processed foods. It’s that time of the year again: Christmas! And while most people celebrate with family and friends, many others are struggling with weight gain. During the holidays, many people eat too much to celebrate in the right way. But is it really a good idea to eat too much?

There are many unhealthy ways to celebrate Christmas, like eating too much sugary food or drinking sugary drinks or processed foods. In the end, these things will make you sick and tired. Instead, try making some healthy rules for how you will spend Christmas. Here are some suggestions:

- To stay healthy and full of energy, make sure you take enough vitamins and minerals throughout the day. Your immune system is protected by vitamin C, and your blood sugar is kept in check by magnesium.

- Get enough protein (at least 20 grams per day), fiber (25 grams per day), carbohydrates (5–6 grams per day), fast (10–12 percent of your daily caloric intake), and cholesterol from food (less than 200 milligrams). These kinds of well-balanced meals will help you feel full until dinner, making it less likely that you’ll want to eat more junk food later.

- Don’t eat too much sugar or processed foods. They won’t make you feel festive, but will make you feel tired. Sugar quickly raises your blood glucose level, which makes you feel tired and sad instead of happy.

8: Make More of an Effort to Get Fit

Get enough exercise, even if it’s just a quick walk around the block. You probably don’t have time for a traditional workout if you’re like most people. You work long hours, spend time with your kids, and then rush home to do more work. But that doesn’t mean you can’t work out! In fact, you can reach your health and fitness goals with even a short walk around the block.

Regular low-affected exercise has many benefits: it will improve your mood and energy, lower your stress, strengthen your immune system, and make you happier overall. Even walking for only 20 minutes a day has been shown to improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and raising good cholesterol.

So how much should you walk?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a single right answer. But, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults 18 and older who regularly do moderate-intensity physical activity (30 minutes or more every day) cut their risk of dying by about 30 percent over 10 years compared to those who were less active.

So, if 20 minutes seems too easy or if you can’t find someone to walk with when you’re starting out, try to do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. That works out to about 126 steps per hour.

7: Lend A Hand

Do things you like to do, especially if they help other people. Helping other people can make you feel better about yourself. It’s easy to get busy with our own lives and forget about the surrounding people.

But doing things we like can help us re-energize and feel better about life. Even if all you do is listen or help someone with a task, it makes you feel good to help someone else. Volunteering may be one of the best things you can do for your mental health, according to research.

Here are some ways that doing things can help you feel better:

- On an emotional level, giving makes us happy and full. Psychologists have found that giving is linked to lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol and higher levels of serotonin, which makes you feel happier and less stressed overall.

- It helps us connect with other people on a deeper level by sharing things we’ve done or feelings we’ve had in common. When we tell other people what we’re thinking or feeling, we let them into our inner world. This can strengthen our relationships (and maybe even lead to business partnerships!).

- When we volunteer, we can use our skills and help other people at the same time. In today’s competitive world, it’s important to use your skills outside of work if you want to be successful in the long run.

6: Check It Once, Then Check It Again

- Look at your daily list of things to do and think of ways to improve it. Give yourself a pat on the back for getting even minor tasks done. Making a list of things you need to do each day is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

It helps you stay organized and in charge, which is very important if you want to reach your goals. But making a list of things to do isn’t easy. It takes time and work. So it’s so important to pat yourself on the back every time you finish something small.

Even if all the things you do are small, they add up and make a big difference. So start today by making a list of some straightforward tasks you can do right away. You’ll be on your way to getting a lot more done.

5: There’s A Lot to Look Forward To

Depending on how we feel about our relatives and in-laws, we either dread or look forward to the holiday get-together. Keep your expectations in check and be ready to have fun, but not too much.

It’s normal to have powerful feelings about getting together with family, but try to keep your expectations in check. Unfortunately, many of us overestimate how much fun we’ll have and underestimate how hard it will be to get along with everyone.

Take some time for yourself before the party so you don’t get stressed out about it. Preparation is key. Write what you need (like toilet paper), make a plan for how to talk to your relatives (don’t ask them a million questions at once!), and come up with rules for family reunion etiquette that you can follow.

When you’re done, don’t forget to have fun! Give in to your desires and have as much fun as you can without going too far or ruining the fun for other people.

4: Stay The Course

Do what you always do and try to stay as grounded as possible. This can be hard for someone who is traveling for the holidays. There’s usually too much to do before a trip, and no one wants to think about it while they’re driving or waiting at the airport. Work on keeping a normal schedule until the last minute to stay balanced and sane.

3: Plan Time for Yourself

- Give yourself time to do things you like. During the holidays, people get together with family and friends, have parties, and give gifts. But what do you think? What do you do to make sure the holidays are meaningful and enjoyable for you?

Making time for yourself is one way to make sure the holidays are special for you. This doesn’t mean you should just sit around all day and do nothing. Make time every day to relax, do something fun, or spend time with people you care about.

Just don’t do too much. Getting enough rest and relaxation over the holidays will help you get your energy back so you can take on new challenges on January 1st.

2: Attitude of Gratitude

Think about the good things you’re thankful for and stay positive. During the holidays, family and friends get together to remember the good times. However, it’s easy to get caught up in the season’s stress and start thinking about all the things that you don’t have (or haven’t received yet).

Instead, try to focus on the positive things around you. Think about all the blessings in your life — both big and small. Be grateful for what you have, even if it’s just a healthy body and stable mind. This will help put everything else into perspective, and may make this holiday season a little more pleasant overall.

1: Just Say No

- Stay away from people and environments that make you feel uncomfortable or upset. When there are problems in the family, this might be one of the hardest things to decide. So many issues never get resolved because of forced “togetherness.” The bitterness is compounded by the needless obligation of “family time.”

If you can’t clear the air with family members before the get-together, chances are it will not get resolved in the pressure cooker of the holiday celebration. Attempt to make peace before the gathering. If these events just lead to more negative experiences, it might be time to just say no.

Guarding mental health is often the last thing on the minds of people during the holidays. As kids, we have to deal with toxic family relationships, but as adults, we have more choices.

We don’t have to succumb to the pressures that drive us up the wall. Take a few steps every day to secure your sanity and your blood pressure before the holiday festivities.

One last, but very important thing to remember; if you feel you’re so mentally or emotionally overwhelmed that you may do harm to yourself (or anyone else), seek help. There is no shame in taking care of your mental and physical health. There are many online resources to help you get started.



Dennis Francis

Retired content marketing consultant. Author, artist, husband, father and owner of Still helping small business owners daily.