December 14, 2023

Thriving Through the Holidays: Tips to Spread Joy and Connection

Learn strategies to navigate stress and create connection with loved ones during the holidays.

Family enjoys time together during the holidays.

The holiday season can be a fulfilling time for many of us and our loved ones. As we gather to celebrate with friends and family, it’s important to remember that we’re all human – and that it’s natural to feel stress, anxiety, and sadness.

Here are a few tips we can use to help manage stress, cultivate connection, and show gratitude with the people we care about.

Stay aware of your stress patterns

Being aware of your stress response is one of the best ways to ensure it does not totally take over. Stress tends to show up in three ways: in our beliefs, in our bodies, and through our behaviors. Check out this video on our 3 Bs and reflect on the ways stress shows up for you. Once you’ve noticed them, choose a strategy from our Me Moments Hub to cool off.

Send loving kindness to others

Spending time with others during holidays can often bring up feelings of sadness, anger, and irritation. One simple way to stop another person’s behavior from taking away your own joy is to engage in a Loving-Kindness activity. This activity includes simple phrases to repeat to yourself as a reminder that –just like you – this person is trying their best during a stressful time.

Set boundaries by identifying your “yes”

We often think of boundaries as our “no-go” areas. This time of year, consider reframing your boundaries to what you want to say “yes” to. This could be spending time with family, making sure you have 10 minutes a day to yourself, or keeping your schedule open to accommodate last-minute opportunities. Whatever it is, commit to your yes – that will make saying “no” much easier. Use our boundary setting tool to help.

Show gratitude often

Gratitude is a two-part process: acknowledging goodness around you and recognizing the source of that goodness. Finding moments of gratitude throughout your day can help keep stress at bay. The key is not to use gratitude to try to cover up stress. Phrases like “I should be grateful” or “At least…” set you up to feel like you are lacking in some way.

Find moments that really resonate with you – the way the sun reflects on the snow, a good friend’s laugh, a cozy evening watching a movie – and focus your gratitude there.

Remember to show yourself grace throughout the holidays and beyond. We hope you and your loved ones have a restful holiday season and a thriving 2024!

Additional Resources

Bring your loved ones together with nourishing recipes:

Make the most of mealtime with these tips from Kohl’s Healthy at Home.

Check out the Six Tips and Tools for an Inclusive Family Kitchen blog post.

Elizabeth Cook

Senior Director, Whole Child Health