Traditionally speaking, the holidays are a time for celebration, for togetherness. But in the 21st century, the Christmas season has taken on a whole new meaning… stress.

Today, celebrating the holidays with loved ones is overshadowed or even pushed aside completely by all of the stress that comes with it. If you find this to be true, follow our 4 tips for relieving stress and enjoying this time of year again:

One, save your money. A major source of stress this time of year is spending too much money, most of which goes toward gifts for friends and family members. Work to eliminate this stressor by coming up with a smart budget for holiday shopping. Calculate how much money you can and should spend on each person you’re shopping for, so that you don’t splurge on a purchase you just can’t afford. Or, talk to your loved ones about a less-demanding gift-giving tradition that will save everyone money. White Elephant and Secret Santa are fun gift exchange presents that only require each individual to buy a single present. 

Two, plan what you can. Another common source of holiday stress is having so much to do and so little time. You can control this stressor to a certain degree by creating and sticking to a schedule. Carve out a specific day and time in your calendar for putting up the decorations, for Christmas shopping, for catching up with old friends who are in town for the holidays. You can certainly adjust plans as needed, but coming up with an initial schedule to follow will give you peace of mind and help you better manage your time.

Three, admire your Christmas tree. Research shows that putting up Christmas decorations early can make you happier and less stressed. Psychoanalyst Steve McKeown says that Christmas decorations serve as an anchor to the magical emotions we experienced during the holidays in childhood. So, take a moment to take in the beauty of your tree. Doing so might prove to replace your stress with excitement.

Four, kiss under the mistletoe. Kissing, and other acts of affection, lowers your cortisol or stress hormone levels. Additionally, it releases oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin, which scientists deem our “happy hormones.” These chemicals trigger the pleasure centers of your brain and can make you feel euphoric.

These 4 tips can help you relieve stress so you can better enjoy the holidays.

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