10 Ways to Enjoy a Stress-Free Holiday

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

If hearing “Jingle Bells” or “White Christmas” fills you with dread over last-minute shopping, decorating, meal preparations and more, your stress quotient is probably at the max. You can, however, take proactive steps to make this holiday season much more enjoyable. Here are 10 tips that can likely help.

Forget About Doing It All

Why feel you must be SuperMom or SuperDad or SuperAnyone this year? So, what if some things just don’t get done? Will it be cataclysmic? Will you really care a year from now or even next month? The remedy here is to pare your to-do list to the essentials. Wrap presents. Figure out a welcoming menu and one that’s less hassle to prepare. Invite only those you enjoy being with and don’t worry about being the “perfect host.” You can have a peaceful holiday without overwhelming yourself to tick off everything you thought you must do.

Enlist Help to Get Things Done

Why should you be the only one slaving away in the kitchen? It doesn’t matter if your teenage daughter (or grown son or daughter, for that matter) is engrossed in posting to social media or chatting/texting with friends, ask for their assistance with getting the meal together – or cleaning up afterward. The old saying, “Many hands make light work” is completely appropriate. Their help means less stress for you and time for everyone to celebrate being together when tasks are out of the way.

Make Sure You Take Time to Relax

An often-overlooked tip for making holidays less stressful is to pencil in time to relax. Whether it’s listening to music, taking a walk outside, diving into a book, watching old movies on TV or getting a massage, you deserve to make use of ways to relax that work for you. Don’t ever feel guilty for doing so, either. The fact is that you’re much more fun to be with when you’ve ratcheted down your stress level.

Tickle Your Funny Bone

Laughter is a great stress reducer. Along with smiling, laughter sends a signal to your brain that things are just fine. Stress tamps down, considerably. When others tell a funny joke, show your appreciation with laughter. Find some PG-13 jokes you can share as well by doing an online search. Post a funny saying, joke or cartoon or hang a printed version on the bulletin board.

Take Loving Care of Yourself

You won’t be your best version of yourself if you’ve deprived yourself of sleep, indulged too much in food or drink, or got yourself all whacked out by accepting too many social engagements. Strive for moderation. Good self-care will pay off handsomely with decreased stress all through the holiday.

Give What You Can – Not More Than You Can Afford

Too many times we find ourselves spending more for gifts than we can reasonably afford. No matter how much a grandchild begs for the high-priced electronic or software tech or how much you’d love to get that diamond watch or necklace for your loved one, it’s the sentiment behind your gift that matters most. At least, it should be your primary consideration. If the recipient casts a dim eye toward your gift, that’s their problem. Avoid the stress, headache and pain in the wallet that you know will come when the bills are due by only giving what you can afford. A corollary to this is to use what you know about the intended recipient’s likes and wants to opt for a thoughtful gift.

Put Some Organization into Your Holiday

Instead of reacting to whatever’s happening on any given day this holiday season, it’s better to begin with a plan. Know ahead of time what’s essential to tackle today. Get some of the more time-consuming or difficult tasks out of the way early. That way, you’ll have a big load of stress removed and will feel better about the remaining items on your must-do list.

Wake with a Profound Sense of Gratitude

The best way to prepare yourself for a stress-free day is to greet each day with a deep and reverent sense of gratitude. Say a prayer to your Higher Power. Meditate for a few minutes upon getting up. Take a few moments to be thankful for all that you have and loved ones and friends to share these special days with. Be hopeful about the future.

Practice Releasing Tension with Deep Breaths

An effective technique for ditching tension and underlying stress is to take a few deep breaths at the first sign of these negative physical and mental reactions to what’s going on around you – or within you. Consciously release any thoughts, frustrations or emotions that cause you dismay.

Keep Others in the Loop

When you start to feel stressed or overwhelmed, instead of suffering in silence and allowing the situation to escalate to a point where you explode, confide in loved ones, family members, a trusted friend, your therapist or a support group. Experts say that talking about the stress you are experiencing helps defuse it. It also helps to know that you’re not alone and that others are there to support you through this time.


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Related posts:

10 Soothing Thoughts on What Hope Is

10 Ways to Express Gratitude

Self-Care: The Most Important Person to Take Care of is You

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10 Ways to Express Gratitude


Photo by Jake Thacker on Unsplash

Photo by Jake Thacker on Unsplash

“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.” – Henry Ward Beecher


Philosophers and poets have long praised gratitude as one of the most desirable attitudes. Surely, each of us has much to be thankful for. Why not express our gratitude? It costs us nothing, yet yields countless benefits. Looking for ways to show and acknowledge gratitude? Here are 10 to try that are simple, quick and easy.

Say a kind word.

The quickest, simplest and easiest way to demonstrate gratitude is to say thanks to another. If you don’t have a specific item to express thanks for, saying a few kind words is just as effective. Kind words earnestly spoken are like healing balm to a troubled soul. They work equally well for those who are stressed, feel unappreciated, are lonely, ill, tired or just a bit anxious or depressed. Besides, don’t you feel a little better when someone has a kind thing to say to you?

Include others in your plans.

Chances are you know someone who’s alone or lonely, maybe just someone who could use some time away from being a caregiver for a loved one. What extra would it take for you to invite that individual to accompany you on an outing, to share a coffee or beverage at a nearby restaurant, take in a movie, or go for a walk? When you include others in your plans, it lets them know you’re thinking about them and value their friendship. It’s also an effortless way to express your gratitude.

Listen intently.

I know I’m guilty of sometimes thinking so hard about what I’m about to say next that I fail to grasp the essence of what another person is saying. That’s a common trait that can be corrected, although it takes effort and practice. When I stop editing my next comments and listen actively and intently to the other person, and show by my body language that I’m in the moment in their conversation, it shows I respect and appreciate them. This is a lesson each of us must learn.

Bring over lunch.

Preparing meals, especially if you’re overworked and chronically stressed, is often akin to a dreaded chore. Don’t you know someone who’d be delighted if you’d surprise them with a tasty lunch? Maybe it’s a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend or loved one who could use a little lift that you can easily bring with an inexpensive lunch. What a wonderful way to show your gratitude for all this person means to you.

Pay an impromptu visit.

How often have you heard others welcome you to drop by and pay them a visit? If the comment is genuinely expressed, pay heed. This is a subtle invitation to spend some time with that individual. They’re asking you to come over. When you do, even if it’s a quick visit on your home from work or church or shopping, it lets that person know you care – and listened to their previous offer.

Email to check in.

If you’re busy and can’t take the time for an in-person visit, there’s always email. Dash off a thoughtfully worded communication to let another person know he or she is in your thoughts. Add some entertaining or informative items to round out the note.

Call to say hello.

I love to hear a loved one’s voice on the phone. It’s much more personal than an email, although it doesn’t take the place of a physical visit. You’d be surprised how satisfying a call can be. It is a quickly-handled way to say hello – and will be much appreciated by the recipient. Even if you both are short on time, the exchange of pleasantries stimulates a sense of well-being.

Ask if there’s anything you can do.

Like most people, I don’t like having to ask others for help. That’s something that was instilled in me as a child, to be self-sufficient and do things for myself. Sometimes, however, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the things on your to-do list. Since we all feel this way, put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Ask if there’s anything you can do to help – and mean to follow up on your offer if it’s accepted.

Pick flowers from your garden and deliver to a friend.

A bright bouquet of flowers is a cheery way to express your gratitude. They don’t call them “Thank You” bouquets for nothing. Yet, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to show someone how much you appreciate them. Pick some blooms from your garden and take them to a deserving friend. Their smile of appreciation will say it all.

Offer to do an errand, help with chores.

When I was raising my children, there never seemed to be enough time to get everything done. Laundry, preparing school lunches, setting out clothes for them to wear the next day, making sure their homework was done and many more parental responsibilities ate up whatever spare time I had. I would have loved to take a friend up on an offer to run an errand for me, or to help me sort laundry or clean cluttered kids’ bedrooms. Sadly, I didn’t have anyone around to help, although I’m keenly aware of how much appreciated such assistance would be to an overworked mom. For that reason, if I have an opportunity today, I offer to help someone else that I care about. It doesn’t have to be housework, either. Helping a co-worker with a project, volunteering, taking a family member’s kids to the park all count, too.

In addition to expressing your gratitude and making someone else feel better, you’re likewise reaping benefits from your words and actions. Consider gratitude a virtue, for it’s a trait unique to our species.

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This article was originally published on Psych Central.

Related posts:
10 Soothing Thoughts on What Hope Is

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10 Tips to Start the New Year Right


Photo by Tim Marshall/Unsplash

It’s 2017, time to get off on the right foot. All the procrastination, stuffing yourself, indulging to excess, staying up too late – that’s got to go. Replace those bad habits and pure laziness with healthier behaviors.

Trust me. It’s not that difficult.

If you want to jumpstart a pattern of living life to the fullest, feeling joy and fulfilment as well as peace, some of these tips may be just what you need.

Set Your Priorities

You must set your own priorities. Never let others do this for you. The corollary to this advice is to never allow others to impose their priorities on you. To live according to someone else’s wishes is no way to enjoy life. That’s a charade, not something you want to pursue. When you make your own choices, prioritizing what’s important and what’s not, you’re in control. This is a top recommendation for starting off the new year right.

Be Accountable

Remember that what you do has consequences. Every word and action you take has reverberations, many of which you may never know about. People look up to you and model their behaviors after yours. Live with integrity, owning your responsibilities as well as your faults, making good on the mistakes you’ve made.

Prize Self-Improvement

Make it a point to continually improve. Whether it’s learning a new skill, taking a class, getting involved in a hobby, working on interpersonal communication or something else, self-improvement is integral to living a vibrant, purposeful life. The goal is to achieve the best you can, to be the best person you can be. Accept nothing less.

Know Your Limitations

In your drive to improve yourself, keep in mind that you must know your limitations. This doesn’t mean that you don’t push past your comfort zone. You need to do that to grow. Push, but not too far.

Recognize Opportunities

You can train yourself to recognize opportunities. In fact, being able to identify an opportunity is the first step toward success in any new endeavor.

Rely on Your Strengths

There are going to be rough times, periods when the only thing you’ve got going for you is your inner strength. This is what you call on to get you through problems, tragedies, pain, sorrow and suffering. It’s also your inner strength that will help you navigate complex situations, difficult challenges and obstacles.

Maintain Balance

It’s important to maintain a sense of balance in life. If you veer too far out in one area, rein it in. It doesn’t matter if its work-home balance, or diet-exercise-sleep balance, or another kind of balance. What does matter is keeping things in harmony. Lack of sleep and pushing yourself mercilessly won’t result in success. Just the opposite, in fact. But maintaining good self-care, recognizing stress and employing adequate coping strategies, taking time for fun and relaxation – these will help you maintain balance. Now’s as good a time as any to get started.

Be Genuine in Relationships

One of the most powerful resources you have can be summed up in one word: relationships. But just having mere acquaintances isn’t enough. To gain the most from relationships, you need to be genuine always. No phoning it in. A key aspect of being genuine is learning to be an active listener.

Speak Clearly

How many times have you thought one thing and said another? It’s no wonder others misinterpret your intentions. You’re not being clear. People aren’t mind readers. If you want to convey something, speak clearly. It’s also important to say what you mean and do what you say. This builds personal integrity, inspires trust and makes others view you as reliable.

Dream Big

If you’ve given up on something that you once thought important, maybe it’s time to revisit that dream or goal. Just because the time wasn’t right before doesn’t mean it is lost for good. With respect to goals and dreams in general, dare to dream big. Nothing inspires and motivates like a heartfelt goal. Consider the fact that if it means so much to you, it’s something to aspire to and figure out ways to bring the dream or goal to reality. This last part is vital. It’s not enough to dream. You must be willing to act on your intention.

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Related articles:

5 Ways to Find Peace of Mind

10 Quick Ways to Take a Much-Needed Break

10 Ways Stress Harms You

Self-Care: The Most Important Person to Take Care of Is You


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How to Beat the Post-Christmas Blues


Photo by Kate Williams/Unsplash

After all the wrapping paper, bows and decorations are put away, all the big holiday meals a thing of the past, and the thought of all the credit card bills coming due to pay for everything, if you’re feeling a bit low, you’re not alone. The post-Christmas blues affects everyone in different ways, but it does seem to be hard to escape.

It doesn’t have to linger, though, and here are some tips on how to put the post-Christmas blues behind you.

Take Everything Back at Once

Why torment yourself with thoughts of several days’ worth of trudging back to the store to use up gift cards, return or exchange unwanted, wrong size, color, design or whatever items after Christmas? Instead, get it all over at once by taking everything back on a single day. If this isn’t the day after Christmas when everyone else is doing the same thing, you’re likely to accomplish what you need and put that task behind you.

Spend Less Time on Social Media and More Face-to-Face with Friends

While social media makes it ever so easy to connect with friends, when you’re feeling blue after a big holiday like Christmas, it makes better sense to engage in real-time interaction with your pals than using Facebook, Twitter or some other social media network. Connecting this way also helps rid you of lingering disappointment that the holidays are over, creates tangible feelings of well-being, and reminds you that we’re all in this together.

Eat Better, Sleep Well and Exercise More

No doubt your diet suffered during the holidays along with getting less sleep than you should and foregoing the gym or your daily walk. Now that Christmas is over, it’s time to get back to your healthy routine – or begin one, if you haven’t before. Stop unhealthy snacking and gorging yourself like it’s your last meal (it’s not). Eat well-balanced, nutritious meals at appropriate times. Get a good 8 hours sleep each night, and remove electronic devices from the bedroom so they don’t tempt you to catch up on messages, emails, etc., and carve out at least 15-20 minutes daily for some sort of vigorous exercise. Even a short walk outside will help eradicate the post-Christmas blues.

Start a New Project

There’s nothing better to take your mind off what’s bothering you, including post-holiday sadness, than diving into a new project. Whether it’s repainting the living room, poring through catalogs for spring bulbs, creating plans for an addition, shopping for new appliances, doing research for a new or replacement vehicle, gathering information on going back to school, the process of involving yourself in a new project not only occupies your time, it also lifts your mood, gives you something to look forward to, and is a healthy way to live.

Stay Busy

Does it seem like there’s a void now that all the relatives and friends have gone, you’re back at work or left alone at home while others are off tending to everyday things? While the hours slowly grind away, there’s much too much time to sit around feeling sorry for yourself or allow sad thoughts to intrude even while you’re halfheartedly trying to work. Here the recommendation is to stay busy, to have another task or assignment or chore to go to on your to-do list. This way, there’s no down-time, no time to dwell on emotional lows. By staying busy, you’re being focused and acting. This passes the time and helps you be more productive, both of which can reduce feelings of sadness.

Be Grateful

When you wake up each morning, take a few minutes to reflect on all the things you’re grateful for in life. While you might automatically start to think about how sad you feel, acknowledge the emotion and then think how fortunate you are to be alive. Your troubles aren’t so great, no matter what they are, that you don’t have things to be grateful for. These include family, friends, a job, a home to live in, your health, and so on. Gratitude is one of the most effective ways to dispel the post-Christmas blues.

Do Something for Others

It doesn’t take much time out of your day, or much effort, for that matter, to do something for others. If you know of someone who’s ill and house-bound, for example, give them a call or stop by for a visit to help lift their spirits and give them the opportunity for real-time social interaction. Back to those unwanted, wrong size, color, etc. gifts, consider donating them to those in need. There are many individuals who won’t at all mind wearing an oversized shirt or ugly Christmas sweater or plaid pair of pants or hot pink sneakers. Both you and the recipient get something good out of it.

Plan Something Special

Another way to get your mind off being blue is to begin planning something special. This might be a night out with your loved one, a day at the spa to treat yourself, creating a romantic dinner or working on plans for summer vacation. When you’re planning, you’re being forward-thinking and taking concrete steps to make the plans reality.

Take a Short Trip

Why not get away for a while? Even a short trip, such as a day trip, can work wonders to drive away the blues and get you back on an even emotional state. A weekend trip might be more appropriate, but with holiday expenses eating up a chunk of the budget, a shorter day trip might better serve your purposes. Go with a friend or loved one to maximize your enjoyment of the excursion. You might even be able to use a gift card you received at Christmas.

Pursue an Interest

There must be something in your life you’ve put off, thinking you didn’t have the time, energy or resources to pursue. Maybe now is the perfect time to delve into that interest. See if there’s some way to make room for it in your life. Surely, if something is important to you, you’ve dreamt about it or had it on your wish list for some time, it’s worth taking a serious look at. Besides, this is an excellent way to jumpstart motivation, lift your spirits and put the post-Christmas blues in the past.

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Related articles:

5 Ways to Find Peace of Mind

Self-Care: The Most Important Person to Take Care of Is You

Are You Lonely Tonight? How to Combat Loneliness

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10 Tips for Less Stress During the Holidays

Photo by Toa Heftiba/Unsplash

Photo by Toa Heftiba/Unsplash

If the sounds of Christmas carols playing in the malls make you cringe, it could be you’re letting the stress of the holidays get to you. With so much to do and so little time to get it done, this seemingly-innocuous musical reminder just adds more fuel to the fire. You’re primed and ready for these 10 tips for less stress during the holidays.

  1. You Don’t Have to Do Everything

Where is it written that you must be the poster person for everything done and everything right for the holidays? If you’ve assumed this mantle willingly, now’s the time to toss it aside. It’s impossible to be perfect, so why should you pursue perfection? The biggest hurdle for you to overcome is your own self-expectations. Tell yourself – and listen so it takes hold – that you don’t have to do everything. This is the first step to much less stress this holiday season.

  1. Know Your Own Limits

You might think you’ve got everything under control, even after you’ve told yourself that you don’t have to do it all, yet you still push yourself beyond what’s realistic. When you wind up haggard and exhausted at the end of the day, don’t look forward to tomorrow’s to-do list, start shortchanging your own well-being in a constant quest to do more, you’ve got to stop. Here is where you must know your own limits and never exceed them. You’ll be tempted, but don’t succumb.

  1. Make Your Boundaries Clear

If you haven’t let others know what you will and won’t do, you need to make your boundaries clear. Let them know it’s not OK to automatically expect you to host the big holiday dinner, just because you may have done so in the past. Times change, other responsibilities may take precedence, or it’s just not equitable, besides no longer being fun. Don’t think that others can guess what your boundaries are, however, because they can’t. Most won’t want to. You must tell them.

  1. Shop Online

The best thing that ever happened with holiday shopping, in my opinion, is the ability to easily, quickly and seamlessly do almost all of it online. Free shipping, discounts, extra gifts, suggestion lists, cash for purchasing via sites like and are all excellent for easing this type of holiday stress.

  1. Watch What You Eat

Gobbling a sandwich on the run, skipping meals, eating unhealthy snacks and eating too much are all a recipe for increased stress, if not a serious medical condition. The human body requires nourishment, not junk food. Eat sensibly, in moderate portions, at the appropriate times and regularly. Not only will you have more energy, with good self-care you’ll be better equipped to deal with the stressors you’ll encounter during the holidays.

  1. Get Some Good Shut-Eye

Just as eating too much, too little or the wrong kind of food can increase your stress level, insufficient sleep is a huge contributor to added stress. It might be tough to get 8 hours of sleep each night, especially if you wait until the last minute to wrap presents, clean the house, launder the holiday linens and make sure all the decorations are in good shape, but this is one area you can’t afford to ignore. Remember the tip about knowing your limits and not trying to do everything? When it’s time to go to bed, go. You need your sleep.

  1. Steer Clear of Alcohol

Another big culprit in holiday stress is alcoholic consumption. One drink won’t kill you and probably is fine – unless you are in recovery, do crazy things with the slightest sip of alcohol, or some other reason – but keeping up with the party-hardy folks is just going to land you in a tight spot. Maybe literally, as in handcuffs from drinking and then driving. Just say no. Drink something festive and non-alcoholic. No one will care. And this is a safe choice that will cut down on your stress level as well.

  1. Begin (or End) Each Day with Something You Enjoy

If you want to have something to look forward to, begin or end each day with something you enjoy. Maybe that’s a massage from your partner, a specially-prepared latte, a hot bath or soothing shower, listening to your favorite album, taking a mindful walk outside, working in the garden. What it is matters less than you derive pleasure from doing it. The release of endorphins you get from doing something you enjoy will dramatically reduce your stress.

  1. Enlist Help and Make It Fun

Since there’s a finite amount of time and you only have so much energy to go around, one way that you can reduce your anxiety and stress during the holidays is to ask for help. If you also make it a fun activity, there’ll be less chance others will resent the request. Furthermore, if everyone pitches in, the task or project will get done that much quicker. Be sure to let others know you’ll reciprocate. It’s more than a grand gesture. It makes them even more willing to lend a hand.

  1. Cherish the Moments

Think about what it means to you to have your loved ones and family members to spend time with this holiday season. What you take for granted, others would gladly trade places to experience. Also, time goes by quickly. The moments you cherish and share now will be loving memories later. Love is a healing balm that can magically erase stress. Be open to it and soak up every minute with those you care about.

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Related articles:

Combat Stress with Mindful Walking

How Your Memory Suffers with Poor REM Sleep

Self-Care: The Most Important Person to Take Care of Is You

To automatically get my posts, sign up for my RSS feed.   

Want to get my free newsletter? Sign up here to receive uplifting messages and daily positive quotes in my Daily Thoughts. You’ll also get the top self-help articles and stories of the week from my daily blog and more.

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