How to Enjoy a Stress-free Holiday Season

stress free holidays

Holiday stress is normal. We have so much to celebrate, but heightened expectations and conflicting emotions often make us forget everything we have to be grateful for. This year, aim to relax and enjoy the holidays, and focus on your blessings.

1. Give yourself permission to be imperfect. The #1 cause of holiday stress is believing everything has to be perfect, which stems from thinking you’re not good enough. Not being perfect doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough! The tree doesn’t have to look perfect, neither does the house. Savor the season without stressing over details.

2. Let go of your high – and low – expectations. Many people either revel in the holidays or dread them. The difference lies in their EXPECTATIONS. Expecting people and situations to be anything but what they really are can be a problem. When you stop expecting people to change, it makes them easier to deal with. Let go of your expectations and your stress levels decrease.

3. Focus on what you HAVE, not on what you LACK. Many Americans constantly think they don’t have enough. This comes from focusing on what you lack, but the irony is that the average American lives better than Louis XIV. (Got indoor plumbing? Electricity? A computer? The Internet?) Every morning, write five things you’re grateful for. Focusing on what you HAVE will build feelings of confidence, self-worth, and lower your stress levels.

4. Find enjoyment in giving – not overspending. Bake cookies for a neighbor, volunteer in a soup kitchen, sponsor a child or family who can’t afford anything over the holidays. Take the time to send a holiday letter or make something from scratch instead of rushing out to the store.

5. Don’t overschedule. It’s fine to celebrate with friends and family over the holidays, but if you try to squeeze in too much, you’re bound to feel stressed. You can’t do EVERYTHING. And that’s OK. It’s fine to say “no” to a party invitation. If you want, enjoy a quiet night at home curled up by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa to relax and recharge.