1. Take a breath- Did you know that deep breathing activates the vagus nerve which impacts mood, digestion, heart rate, and oxygenation to your brain? A few deep breaths can help you focus in stressful situations.
  2. Say thank you- Take a dozen donuts or cookies to your local fire stations, hospital break rooms, faculty lounges, post office, or police station as a thank you to local civil servants.  
  3. Make small things big events- Make a gingerbread house, have a Christmas tree lighting ceremony or bake and deliver treats to neighbors. The small moments together are what you’ll remember long-term. 
  4. Live and let that to-do list die- Be ok with not being productive, the house might get messy, and the dishes and laundry might be backed up. Be kind to yourself and let go of the to-dos. 
  5. Find quiet in the chaos- Take a few minutes every day to be still, and give your body a chance to rest. 
  6. Turn predictable family drama into a game- Start a bingo card of things that your relatives say that make you crazy. When you get a bingo treat yourself to something fun like a sweet treat or a cup of coffee
  7. Outsource wrapping- Don’t get stuck with last-minute wrapping! Ask your local girl scout or the store you purchase from to wrap gifts for you.  
  8. Skip the wrapping altogether- Get reusable gift bags and boxes for an easier, more sustainable Christmas option. 
  9. Be choosey with your yes- The holiday FOMO is fo’ real. You can’t be everywhere at once, choose activities that will bring joy, and don’t be afraid to say no. 
  10. Find support- Whether you are grieving a loss, recovering from an addiction, or just trying to survive the season, having support is crucial. Find a support group, lean on friends, talk to professionals, and take care of yourself emotionally.
  11. Make an escape plan- Have a “safe word” to let your partner know when you need a break or to escape from challenging social situations. 
  12. Prioritize connection over perfection- In a world that glorifies curation, it can be hard to be in the moment. Remember, the moments together are more important than a picture-perfect Instagram post.
  13. Set reminders- Save yourself the middle of the night panic attack by setting a post-bedtime timer to move the Elf on a Shelf. 
  14. Move your body- Over the holidays we tend to take in extra stress and sugar. Take a daily walk to keep yourself healthy physically and emotionally. 
  15. Change the subject- Bringing together generations and distant relatives can bring with it differing perspectives. Rather than joining the debate, try to find common ground. 
  16. Embrace the healing powers of cheese – Science has proven what we’ve known all along, cheese is a wonder drug. Cheese contains mild opiate-like compounds called casomorphins, which release dopamine, leading to a sense of reward and pleasure.
  17. Choose Quality over quantity- The number of boxes under the tree is not an automatic equation for showing love. Less can be more if the gifts are thoughtful. 
  18. Have you tried drinking? Don’t go overboard, but a glass of wine can certainly take an edge off a stressful evening. 
  19. Start a holiday movie tradition- Screen a holiday classic movie paired with themed snacks. For example, hot chocolate and The Polar Express. 
  20. Remember to have fun- With kids out on winter break, there’s a lot more time to create fun. Have everyone contribute one idea to a “Family Fun List.” Not sure where to start? Add ice skating, seeing the EPB lights, or sledding (with cardboard if there’s no snow).  
  21. Be a friend- Spend time with those who may be lonely this time of year. Try Christmas caroling at a nursing home or providing meals to the Ronald McDonald house. 
  22. Look for joy- Take time to write down moments of gratitude so they don’t get lost in the shuffle.
  23. Ask for help- Everyone could use help this time of year. Don’t become a holiday martyr, ask your friends and family for help when you feel overwhelmed.
  24. Make a playlist- Put together your favorite holiday music on a playlist and blast it while you’re wrapping, cooking, or running a thousand errands. 
  25. Remember the true meaning of the holiday season. Beyond the gifts, the sparkle, and the business, this is a season of giving and love.