Supposedly, the holidays are the happiest time of the year…but what does that actually look like? Between hosting guests, closing out the year at work, and shelling out on gifts, how do we embrace the joy of the season? Here’s a checklist of happiness hacks, holiday-edition:
- Clear your schedule for downtime
Stretching yourself too think is the fastest way to induce stress. Stress can affect us physically, behaviorally, emotionally, and cognitively. Actually, 75-90% of doctor visits are for stress-related conditions and complaints (1). Symptoms can range anywhere from body tension to anger to forgetfulness. Try picking one day per week that you dedicate to self-care, whether it be sleeping late, going to dinner, watching mindless television—anything that does not involve work.
- Shop online
Why fight a crowd when everything is online? Decide on your budget for gifts and take your time finding that perfect something for each person on your list. Sites like Ebates are great for showing current sales from all major retailers, as well as offering cash back on a majority of purchases. Start the new year with some spare change.
- Give back
Generosity is the theme of the season. One study, led by Social Psychologist Liz Dunn, saw that stinginess is linked to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol (2). Start small by cleaning out your closet and home, then donating your goods to charity. If you haven’t worn or used something at least three times this year, then toss it! A clean space will help you feel refreshed and accomplished. Charity Navigator has its own Holiday Giving Guide to help you find organizations in your area that need your help.
- Eat up
Indulge and let go of the guilt. Worrying about eating may actually cause you to gain more weight than helping yourself to the dessert bar. Cortisol can cause your insulin levels to spike and your blood sugar levels to drop, making you crave fatty foods. (3). This is the beginning of binge eating. Choosing to satisfy your initial craving can help you start the momentum of will power. Choose one splurge and stop there. Veestro has incredible plant-based desserts that will have you feeling good about your sweet tooth. Balance is key!
Awkward gatherings can make for the best memories. Be intentional about connecting with friends, family, and the co-worker you never talk to. Check out this list of funny ice breakers that generate laughter and create a relaxed environment. Research has proven that laughter increases the function of blood vessels, increasing blood flow, as well as improving immunity, regulating blood sugar levels, and improving sleep (4).