Whether it’s the decorating and gift buying, sensory overload from lights and music, or the first holiday without a loved one, the holidays evoke different feelings in all of us. What some consider a time of holy celebration with family and friends, others find to be something they would like to avoid all together. Take heart: here are some tips to help you cope and thrive throughout the season.

  • Make time for yourself. Take a walk outside or do a daily meditation or devotional to relieve stress and produce a sense of wellbeing.
  • Get outside and exercise regularly. Both sunlight and exercise stimulate the feel-good chemicals in the brain. Open the blinds, sit near windows, or take long walks outside.
  • Watch what you say. Words like “should,” and “must” elicit obligation and stress. Use empowering words like “can,” “choose to” to remind yourself that it is your choice.
  • Keep healthy snacks within reach. Holidays equal sweet treats! Mindlessly eating sweets can make us feel tired and irritable. Snack on fresh fruits, veggies, and nuts.

Pull quote: Make your own holiday snack mix with any of the following: pumpkin seeds, pistachios, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dark chocolate, pretzels and cereal squares.

  • Don’t forget to laugh. Laughter immediately reduces stress hormones and boosts mood. So listen to your favorite comedy channel, watch silly videos or movies (think Elf with Will Ferrell), or keep a funny audiobook in the car when you travel. One of my personal favorites, Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris.

Pull quote: Give someone a hug. Studies show that human touch reduces stress and improves immune function. Getting a massage boasts similar results.

  • Forget perfection. Focus on your family and friends and what is most important to you. Let go of the small things that really don’t matter.

Small changes add up and make a big difference in how you feel. Try a few of the tips above and notice a shift in your thinking. Taking good care of yourself allows you to be a blessing to your family and those around you.