by Dr. Dan Peters

Happy Holidays! Happy Hanukkah! Merry Christmas! The holiday season is here. It’s a time full of cheer and fun (and, yes, stress, too). To help you make your holidays happier I created this list of four ways you and your family can maximize the joy every minute.
Make a list and check it twice. Creating a personalized TO DO plan will reduce your stress. Try to focus on what you have to do and what you want to do: who you will shop for, what you want to bake, decorating goals, entertaining, wrapping gifts — and then just do it. Stick to your list, cross things off, and I promise you’ll reduce your stress and enjoy your holidays more this year.
Just Say No. Remember you don’t have to do everything. Pick and choose what is important: baking with family, singing in your church choir, volunteering in your community, helping a loved one, buying less stuff. Maybe skip the ugly sweater party or cookie swap. Prioritizing will increase your joy.
Your real life (not your online life) is what matters most. Don’t let social media complicate your holiday season. Stop comparing your decorations to the ones you see online. Don’t create unnecessary credit card debt by folding to the pressure to luxury shop. No, you don’t have to make your meal from scratch. Finally, not everyone can afford a professional photographer for their holiday card. Traditions, family time, and keeping it “real” are what will make you and your family remember the holidays and enjoy them the most.
Find Peace in the PRESENT (not in a present). Pleasing people is exhausting so take time to breathe and marvel in the present moment. Focus on what you are doing right now, in this very moment. Start a daily meditation practice. The gifts we embrace in our hearts are the most priceless of all. Enjoy the merry!
The holidays are an opportunity to pause and be grateful for family and to reflect on another year coming to an end. Wishing you all a healthy and very happy holiday season!