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5. Get Creative in Your Gift Giving

Many families have had to cut back on holiday gifts. If this includes you, have a family meeting and get creative. "Some families draw names and each person buys for one person. Some families do handmade gifts or coupons," Dubin says. A coupon might be good for a massage or night off from doing the dishes, for instance. You don't have to go into debt to make the holidays special.  

6. Play Games

Games can keep things fun and light at family gatherings. "Games are a good way to connect with each other and engage your mind, body, and imagination," says Levingston. The game is up to you. You can play games indoors or out, and they can be anything from a walk, treasure hunt, cards, or charades. "The key thing is, you are in the moment."  

7. Postpone Family Feuds

There is a reason many people equate holidays with family strife. "When you have a group of people in a small area and everyone expecting to have a great time, it is almost a set up for arguments," Dubin tells WebMD. With so much emotion and expectation, the holidays are not the best time to work things out. If old family baggage surfaces, plan to talk after the festivities wind down. "It's better to address emotional issues in a more relaxed, private setting," Dubin says.  

8. Have Compassion for Yourself and Others

Even if you shop less and focus on family time, stressed-out friends, in-laws, and co-workers may still come calling. How can you be a good friend and keep your calm?

Try not to take things personally. Levingston says that's one of the most important skills you can learn to reduce stress. During the holidays in particular, he says, most people are trying to get their needs met. Maybe it's their need for love or simply for validation. "Even if someone is being a jerk or insensitive, it is their way of trying to get their needs met," Levingston says.

So try not to think about how people "should be." Accept them as they are, and release the tension from your body. "I think when we can see where people are coming from, there can be less frustration and more compassion," Levingston says.  

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