Increase your happiness this holiday season

The holidays. We love them and we love to hate them. There is nothing so joyous or sweet as spending time with your family doing the traditions and activities you love. But there is also nothing so stressful as planning those beloved activities and traditions. While it’s easy to become stressed and overwhelmed this holiday season, that doesn’t have to be the status quo. Instead of giving into the stress and overwhelm, try the following ways to increase your happiness during the holidays. He’s how you can put a little more joy in the happiest time of the year.

Make connections

The thing most of us love about the holidays is that we get to spend time with the people we love. Instead of just walking through the motions of that big family dinner, think of ways to really connect with the people around you. All alone? Invite a friend or co-worker to spend the holidays with you. Seek out ways to connect with others. It’s that connection with others that helps you feel happy.

Take time to give to others

Giving to others is a surefire way to feel good. Whether it’s finding the perfect gift for your mother-in-law, or volunteering at the soup kitchen on Thanksgiving, giving to others will boost your happiness levels. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Just give. For example: pay for a friend’s lunch, donate to a charity, or help someone in need.

Keep a gratitude journal or a gratitude list

It’s pretty hard to feel down when you are looking for the good things in life. Keeping a gratitude journal will force you to do just that. Each day, make a goal to write down at least one good thing that happened throughout the day. You’ll be surprised at how much good there is in your life.

Release expectations and enjoy the moment

We all have an idea in our heads about what should happen and how it should happen. For example, Christmas dinner is going to be a joyous evening spent with loving family and friends. In reality, your kids are fighting and your husband is in the bathroom throwing up from food poisoning. Expectations set you up for disappointment. Instead of creating a picture in your head of how you want things to go, tell yourself to enjoy the moment.  Sure, the kids might fight. You’ll have to clean the bathroom floor after your husband is finished. But there will still be good things that happen if you are looking for them.

Know your limits

It’s easy to pack too much into the holiday season. Concerts, plays, a visit to Santa Clause, a dinner party at a friend’s house, matching Christmas eve pajamas, an elf that creates mischief every night, perfect Christmas cards (sent out before Christmas), and all the fun traditions you can squeeze into your advent calendar. Not to mention all the gifts you need to purchase. If you don’t set some limits, you’ll finish the holiday season exhausted, resentful, and broke. Instead, set a budget, limit activities to what you really want to do, and decide now what will be the most meaningful things for your family.

Unless you're paying attention, the holidays can come and go like a whirlwind. Instead of feeling sad or stressed out, be intentional about creating happiness.