Feel Happier Improve Your Life Personal Growth By kimberly Absher Holiday stressors can ruin the festive season for you. The holidays offer precious time to enjoy food, time off, and people we love. But the magic of the season can turn to stress when we find ourselves around the person we avoid all year long, or panicking over gifts, or with our digestion in a funk from too many cookies and cocktails. Use these tips to overcome holiday stressors and enjoy the festive season. 3 Holiday Stressors and How to Overcome them #1: The weather outside is frightful, and the vibe inside is awkward. You don’t know what to say to the cousin you disagree with about everything at the holiday meal. Or you received a festive party invitation but attending means seeing an old friend you no longer speak to. How to handle interactions that push your buttons: Set boundaries. If you feel forced to spend time with people you don’t want to be around, remind yourself that you get to make your own choices. Decide for yourself if a potentially uncomfortable situation is worth it or not. At the event if you want to leave, politely excuse yourself without drama or gossiping. Shake off preconceived notions. Even if you’re not over something in the past, now is not the time to focus on it. Let go of thoughts about how this person “always” is, and recognize that he or she is an ever-changing being on a unique path just like you. Then pump yourself up with a mantra like, “Today I choose to be loving, accepting, and peaceful.” Take care of yourself. Eat well and prioritize sleep a few days beforehand to arrive well-rested and well-fed, and in the best mood possible. The morning of the event, do whatever helps you handle anxiety and feel happy, like exercising, meditating, or journaling. #2: You’re too strapped for cash to buy gifts, or you just don’t want to participate in gift giving. But you don’t want to be rude, especially to those who you think might give you a present. How to handle unrequited gift love: Promise yourself you will enjoy the holidays on your terms without guilt. Deliver a clear message. Since consumption is a major part of the holiday season (and in general), people may not believe it when you say you’re not into it. Send a short, direct message explaining your no-gift policy, or give people this free One Less Gift Certificate by miss minimalist. Brainstorm options in line with your values and budget. Make the same gift for everyone, like homemade tea mix or cookies in a pretty package. You can make these gifts in batches fairly quickly and cheaply (plus you get to enjoy them too, score!). You could also give out Christmas cards with a little somethin’ inside, like a bookmark or magnet, homemade or not. Also you could give the most precious gift of all- you! Plan a fun activity or simply hang out free of distractions. #3: The turkey isn’t the only one stuffed. You’ve overloaded on cookies at work, eggnog, cocktails, pie, and pumpkin-spiced everything, and the holiday meals aren’t even here yet! You keep thinking, “I’ll deal with it in January,” but feel bloated, run down, and downright yucky. How to have fun without ditching your health: Stay present. It’s easy to go overboard at the snack table when your awareness is elsewhere. Savor your fun. There’s a Buddhist saying, “When you eat, eat.” Take time to listen to your body and remind yourself to slow down. Mix up the fare. Contribute lighter, healthier food and drinks at get-togethers. Empowered Sustenance offers a free no-grain recipe eBook and you can find tons of paleo and vegetarian/vegan versions of classic dishes online. Get moving. I know, it’s freezing and all you want to do is sit at home in your fuzzy jammies. Despite the temptation to hibernate, being sedentary will make you feel sluggish and more stressed. So bundle up for a walk, hit the gym, have a dance party in your kitchen, or work out to a YouTube video. Take advantage of seasonal activities like ice skating or sledding. With healthy ways to let off steam, you’re far more likely to eat and drink in moderation. With a few simple shifts to your mindset, your communication and behavior will improved, and you will be better equipped to handle the holidays with grace and ease. Remember to take care of yourself, practice compassion toward others, and give in a way that is meaningful to you. Commit to truly enjoying the holiday season, and know the rest will fall into place. What are holiday stressors you’ve faced during the festive season, and how did you handle it? Leave a comment below. About the Author: Kimberly Absher (@kimberlyabsher) is the author of the free eBook, 5 Easy Breezy Ways to be the Boss of Your Thoughts and Actions. A freelance writer, her personal essays have been published on GoodHousekeeping.com and WomansDay.com.