How to Stay Happy & Healthy During the Holiday Season

You’ve made your list, and you’ve checked it twice. However, the problem with the Christmas season is that your to-do list feels as long as Santa’s naughty and nice lists. There’s decorating to be done, parties to plan and attend, shopping, baking, cleaning and much, much more. It’s no wonder that stress and depression skyrocket during the holiday season. Did we mention that it’s also peak flu season? And as we all know, a stressed mind is more likely to result in a sick body. Here are a few things you can do to minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays:

1. Be realistic.

The holidays don’t have to be perfect. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones that help simplify things.

2. Make a holiday budget.

Before you go shopping for gifts and food, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness. Considering giving thoughtful homemade gifts or starting a gift exchange or “Dirty Santa.”

3. Plan ahead.

Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus, and then make your shopping list. Planning everything by yourself can be incredibly overwhelming-be sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.

4. Learn to say no.

Saying yes to every invite or volunteer job could leave you resentful, overwhelmed, and stretched way too thin. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every activity.

5. Go for a walk.

A brisk half-hour walk can decrease stress and anxiety.

6. Get plenty of sleep.

Don’t sacrifice sleep to fit in one more task. Getting enough sleep helps protect your mental and physical health.

7. Make some time for yourself.

Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing, and restoring inner calm.

8. Do something that makes you laugh.

Laughter really is the best medicine. It can reduce stress hormones and lift your mood.

9. Listen to music.

Whether it’s your favorite holiday song or a Top 10 Hit, research shows that listening to music you love can calm you down and is good for your heart.

10. Give back to someone in need.

The holiday season is a great time to give back to others in need. Whether it’s a small act of kindness, such as holding a door for someone or giving to a charity, your mood will be lifted to know you made a difference.

Take control of your holiday season!

Don’t let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take these small steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy this holiday season.