6 Secrets for Thriving (Not Just Surviving) Through the Holidays

woman drinking tea by fireplace to reduce holiday stress

The holiday season has officially graced us with its presence. The holidays are a time of celebration and bliss, not stress. The pure magic of these December days is something I anticipate and enjoy each and every year.

For some, though, the holidays have lost the delight and excitement they once held. The pace of life has become so fast—much faster than those first holidays I remember in my life—that the season can be full of stress. Some people don’t enjoy spending time with family and friends during what are supposed to be days filled with pure joy and peace.

Why is that? Our hectic lives can probably account for a lot of it, but that isn’t all.

How to Reduce Your Holiday Stress

I believe our holidays should be wonderful, filled with lasting and enjoyable moments and memories. So how can we ensure that we come out of the holidays in January with great memories of the past month? Here are six thoughts that will help you enjoy the holidays, with peace and joy:

1. Be temperate to avoid holiday stress.

Holidays can be days of excess for many—too much food, too many sweet treats, schedules that are too busy. One thing that will help you enjoy the holidays and reduce stress is to be temperate. Enjoy the food. Indulge in the treats. Enjoy the busy schedule of activities and parties. But also be disciplined enough to know when to hold back, when to say no. When we go overboard, we regret it and lose the opportunity to fully experience that moment. But when we enjoy a little and refrain from going too far, then we can enjoy all that little piece of time has to offer.

2. Lower your expectations.

Much of the frustration and stress people experience during the holidays comes from setting their expectations too high. They expect too much from friends or family, and when they don’t get what they want, they get upset. They expect presents to be perfect, and when they aren’t, they get disappointed. Instead of having huge expectations this holiday season, just take it as it comes. So…

3. … Enjoy what you can and ignore the rest.

Go with an attitude of knowing that things will be what they will be. You can’t control other people or their actions. If a family member pushes the limits of your patience, ignore that and instead focus on how much you can enjoy the time you have with other family members. If things don’t go perfectly—and they won’t—then enjoy what you can and let the rest slide. You will feel a lot better about life if you can take all things a little easier.

4. Stay out of debt.

Debt is a killer. It will steal your enjoyment of life and add undue stress during the holidays. Be sure to stay within your financial boundaries this season. The last thing you want is to start the new year with a deeper financial burden. Know where you are financially and stay within those limits. You don’t have to impress anyone; just buy gifts that you can afford and express your heartfelt feeling in the giving of the gift.

5. Take time for yourself to reduce holiday stress.

Be sure that no matter how busy you get, you take time for yourself. Take time to read. Enjoy a long bath if that relaxes you. Take a walk. Spend some quiet time in front of a fire. Don’t rush through the holidays and zap all of your energy. You need to reenergize your mind and body, so be sure to take time to do so.

6. Focus on your spiritual life.

Ultimately, no matter what traditions you follow, the holidays are historically days in which we focus on the spiritual. People feel a natural draw toward a spiritual life. However, our culture today tends to stay away from a focus on the spiritual, and that has even crept into our holidays. Placing an emphasis on building your spiritual life and growing in that area will help keep you grounded and able to deal with any holiday stress that might come your way.

Friends, we are coming to the end of another year. This time is another chance to remember the important truths of life and to enjoy time with dear friends and family.

May you experience the very best this holiday season has to offer and move into January feeling better than ever!

This article was published in December 2014 and has been updated. Photo by Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock

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