6 Ways to Feel Happier During the Holidays

The holidays should be a time of happiness and relaxation, but it’s common to feel depressed and stressed out. Who hasn’t been bitten by money worries, imbalanced priorities or loneliness? Here are six research-powered tips to boost your holiday spirits:

1.       Focus on what is important to you

Genuine happiness is not waiting for you under the tree. This Christmas, try putting less emphasis on gifts, and more emphasis on the things that mean the most to you. Try connecting with family and friends, religious practices and hobbies that you normally don’t have time for.

2.       Socialize

Although we can all benefit from alone time, many studies show that we tend to be happier around others. If you cannot be near your loved ones for the holidays, try inviting over a few coworkers or neighbors for drinks or a dinner party.

3.       Reminisce about past good experiences during the holidays

Simply thinking about fond memories can put us in a better mood. If you find yourself feeling down during the holidays, take a trip down memory lane by flipping through old family photo albums or reminisce with loved ones about past family gatherings during Christmas.

4.       Give someone close to you the gift of experience

People are happier when they receive a gift that they can experience (such as a beach trip or sky diving lessons) as opposed to material gifts. So if you or someone you love is feeling a bit blue this Christmas, why not treat yourself and a friend to a concert or guitar lessons?

5.       Fill your home with Christmas scents and music

Not feeling very festive or merry? Try setting the mood by playing Christmas music and burning holiday scented candles in your home.

6.       If you are going to spend a lot of money, spend it on others 

Get this: buying gifts for others generally makes us happier than buying gifts for ourselves! The holidays are the perfect time to boost your mood by giving to others. If you are tight on cash, get creative with your gifts. Showing someone you care, whether it is by baking them a cake or spending quality time with them, will probably be a lot more memorable than a pair of holiday socks.

We often hear about how Christmas has become a commercialized holiday that feeds into our materialistic culture. That’s just a fancy way of acknowledging that getting gifts is not what really makes our holidays special.  So here’s your chance: take a good break and find your own ways to be merry!

By Samantha Nau

Further reading:

12 Psychology Studies of Christmas
Happy (Awkward) Holidays
Is it Irrational to Give Holiday Gifts?