9 Tips for a Happier, Less Stressed Holiday Season

9 Tips to Foster 'Happy' Not 'Havoc' this Holiday Season
We're here to share tips that garner gratitude and peace, so that you're holiday will be happy and healthy this year.

It's almost the holidays and wellness professionals know the stress that this time of the year can sometimes bring. While there is more time for family and winter activities, there are also increased bookings, beauty services and events.

We gathered these tips from clinical psychologist and music therapist Bethany Cook, PsyD, to help you practice gratitude and peace for a happy and healthy holiday season. Here are nine tips that Cook recommends:

1. Gratitude Attitude

At meals, or another appointed time, have everyone offer one thing they are grateful for; you can have categories like self, others, family, friends, nature. Studies have shown we can develop a gratitude mindset through effort and focus. When we bring to consciousness our blessings/positive aspects of life, this improves our overall mental health. The cocktail of stress hormones are replaced by the "love" ones which is a win-win. 

2. Validation Vase

Design a jar/box and put small papers beside it with a pencil for your staff. As things happen over the holidays (or throughout the year), everyone should write down things you appreciate in others. Read them together at predetermined times. Hearing nice things about yourself and perhaps things you didn’t think anyone noticed reinforces a sense of self within the workplace. 

Related: 6 Holiday Spa Treatments

3. Map the Holiday Months

Include dates for events, as well as time for holiday errands and self-care practices throughout the month. The holidays get hectic and before you know it you’re overwhelmed and stressed; no one benefits. Any diversions should be shared and pre approved if possible. Life is moving quickly, and one wrong turn or sudden break could derail those you are trying most to please.

 4. No Pressure Post Pics

Yes, we all want our Hallmark memory or two over the next few months to be captured on film. The problem is when these moments are forced, or that's the focus during the event and you are not actually present to appreciate the real happiness that can be created by closely connecting to the ones around you. Special moments are about slowing down time, stopping long enough to observe and your heart takes a picture with all your senses and stores it in your memory. This heart picture can be triggered by any of the memories associated with your five senses. This increases the chances of the memory being triggered, thus making it a more powerful moment than a posed picture memory will ever be.  

5. Limits Facilitate Leisure

You will want to set boundaries and limits before throwing or attending events. Have an action plan ready to go in case someone doesn’t respect your limit or isn’t respecting someone else's.

6. Build in Breaks

If you, or someone in your immediate crew, needs downtime to refuel, don’t plan events back to back. Mark off hours each day for downtime. If some people on your team don’t recharge in low stimulating environments, offer a different space or activity they can do to refill.

Related: 5 Ways to Create Successful Holiday Promotions

7. The Helping High

It’s hard to help someone else and not feel better yourself. Sit down with your team and talk about ways to give back. This can be in the form of financial donations, volunteering your time/talents, buying gifts for a family, writing letters to those in the military etc. Model for your team the importance of community and connection.  

8. Be Able to Identify Raisins vs. Chocolate 

Pause to reflect on what stresses you out the most about the holiday season; money, family events, past trauma, etc. Once you have identified what gets under your skin the most, you can do your best to be prepared. This prepares you mentally to pack your coping backpack and make sure you have all the necessary supplies to manage. 

9. Keep Schedules Simple

Don’t over schedule yourself or your team. Do as much as you can ahead of time. Be ok with saying no and practice saying it so it doesn’t get stuck in your throat. 

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