While the holidays are meant to be a time of joy, of love, of peace, it can be anything but that. So how do you survive the holidays still in-tact? Try these 5 sure ways to destress.

“The holidays are only holy if we make them so.” —Marianne Williamson

While the holidays are meant to be a time of joy, of love, of peace, it can be anything but that. For many, the holidays equal major stress. So how do you survive the holidays still in-tact, without battle scars from dueling with challenging family and friends?

You begin by setting the intention that this year will be different. Genuinely choose, make up your mind, commit to having a most excellent holiday season. Then tune into your inner-support coach with these five de-stressors.

One, ask yourself this fundamental question

Would you rather be right or enjoy the festivities? If you truly need to be both, call a holiday truce, agree to disagree, even if this is a silent peace treaty with yourself. Consciously making this choice will give you a sense of control over how you are going to act and react versus being at the whim of the usual holiday arguments.

Two, recognize the ‘shared wish’ for a happy holiday

I do not think that family and friends want, nor set out to have an unhappy holiday. We are wired to connect, that is why family and community are so vital to our overall happiness. So…

Three, be the ray of light

Happiness research shows that for every negative comment or action, there needs to be three to five positive ones to offset it. Apply this idea to thinking of three good things about your nagging aunt or tedious friend, five if they are really challenging. If you can muster it, share these thoughts with that person as well. You may be pleasantly surprised that they are so moved by your kinds words that in turn, they reciprocate. It just may open the door to airing out some long-held differences.

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Four, breathe

Take long, slow inhalations through your nose. Then, equally long, slow exhalations. Keep breathing until you feel your breaths are smooth and even. It may help as you exhale to ever so slightly constrict the back of your throat muscles. It should create the gentle sound of ocean waves, cooling down that urge to fight or flee, activating your parasympathetic nervous system to put you into a more restful, less stressed state. Or, try the 4-7-8 breath. This is like taking a natural tranquilizer. Breathe in through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale for a count of eight. Repeat three more times. Though this breath will be more effective if you practice it twice daily, and call upon when anxious. Also, the breath ratio is more important than the speed.

Five, say a prayer and send love to all your family and friends ahead of time

Just doing this opens your mind and heart to be more accepting and tolerant. Which brings us back to setting the intention to have this holiday season be one of joy, of love, of peace with family and friends.

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