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15 Free/Inexpensive Ways to Lift Your Mood During the Holidays

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Reduce holiday stress with these simple ideas.

Reduce holiday stress with these simple ideas.

The Stress of the Holidays

The holidays can be a stressful time for many of us. Between travel, shopping, family, and cold weather, it can be easy to get wound up in the winter chaos. This article lists 15 simple ways to de-stress during the holiday season.

1. Give Back to the Community

Even small gestures make a difference and help us focus away from ourselves. Adding a small donation at checkout or rounding up a bill is an easy way to do this. We can also lend our time to an important cause, support a local shop, help out a neighbor who is struggling, or simply make more of an effort to be kind and understanding to one another.

2. Try Meditation to Reduce Stress

Meditation is a great way to shift your mind away from thoughts inducing stress. It helps us become more mindful and appreciative as well. Short mindfulness sessions work best for me, and I find the guided meditations with music soothing and inspirational. There are plenty of free or affordable options available online, and I especially like the Calm and Chopra apps.

3. Tackle the Winter Chill and Go Outside

It is important to get fresh air and go for walks in all seasons. During the holidays, there can be an added bonus of seeing pretty lights and decorations displayed during the journey. I sometimes have to push myself to get out in the cold, but I always feel better afterward. Go for a walk in a local park or even stroll around the block.

4. Take Time for Self Care

Slow down if you are overwhelmed. Take mental and physical breaks and don't try and tackle too much at once. It's ok to do nothing sometimes, which helps us refresh and reset. Be sure to give yourself the nudge you need to get moving—one step at a time—after taking time to rest and eat well.

Crafting is always a good distraction, and working with your hands can help relieve stress.

Crafting is always a good distraction, and working with your hands can help relieve stress.

5. Exercise at Home

Even a small amount of at-home exercise can be beneficial. This year, I rediscovered short YouTube workout videos of all kinds; my favorites are from Bailey Brown and Annie Taylor Efremsky. Videos as short as five minutes make it a lot easier to just get some movement in, cut into the monotony of cabin fever, and assist us in getting in better shape. There is a wide variety of options and something for almost everyone.

6. Learn Some New Dance Moves (Or a New Hobby)

Dance in your living room, kitchen, or wherever you have the space. This can be spontaneous and out of the blue with a track that's really moving you. Or, for easy-to-follow choreography, check out some fun Zumba, dance fitness, or more detailed dance lessons on YouTube. I can say many of these mini-dance sessions helped me feel more energized and upbeat. There are plenty of other classes to try as well for learning all sorts of things. Udemy offers a great selection.

7. Sing Out Some Christmas Carols

Set up a new holiday playlist with a mix of old and new releases, sing along, and enjoy. Singing is a great stress reliever! If you are not a fan of holiday songs, discover some new releases in your favorite genre of music or take the time to listen to and sing (with abandon) the songs you have always loved but just haven't gotten around to hearing for a long time.

8. Be Moved by a Movie Night

Scope out some movies and shows (holiday-themed or otherwise) that have been on your list and could help lift your mood (like a comedy or inspiring story). Get enthusiastic about seeing something tried and true or brand new; escape and enjoy. A game night or an interesting book to dive into could be great alternatives too.

8. Take Advantage of Virtual Events

Virtual events can be free or low-cost and are a nice way to connect with others or simply observe in a low-key way. Through my local library, I attended a storytelling session about my city's history and a trivia event. I signed up for a virtual tea and chocolate tasting hosted by the Royal Botanical Garden as well (an alternative to their in-person Tea Festival that was unfortunately canceled this year).

I also plan to try an Airbnb virtual experience. There are some great choices, and the added bonus is that some are offered from different parts of the world, which adds to the excitement. It's good to break routine, try some different things out, and learn at the same time.

Surrounding yourself with small, seasonal decorations is a good way to get into the holiday mood.

Surrounding yourself with small, seasonal decorations is a good way to get into the holiday mood.

9. Treat Yourself to a Tiny Luxury

Delicious holiday chocolates, freshly baked artisan bread, good quality olive oil, a premium donut, and a holiday latte are some tasty treats. Brighten up your space with some flowers, or buy something new and cute to perk up your holiday decor. This is a great way to support local businesses as well.

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10. Try Out a Few Seasonal Recipes

These can be easy and simple or more challenging and creative and are a great way to focus and break out of a culinary rut. If you don't feel like cooking, get into the holiday spirit by watching Christmas-themed cooking or baking shows on TV.

11. Reach Out to Friends and Family

Get in touch with people you care about. Text, call, or send out Christmas cards. Perhaps even write a letter. Find ways to communicate, and if you have gotten into a routine where you reach out to the same people constantly, think about some connections you haven't spoken to in a while and see how they are doing. It's thoughtful to reconnect—especially during the holiday season.

12. Cut Back on Social Media and News

This is a tough thing to do in this day and age, and it's a work in progress for me. There are some days when some of the information energizes and informs me and lifts me up. Other times, it becomes mindless and anxiety-producing scrolling, and that's when I know it's the time to scale it back and go low-tech for a while.

13. Take a Country Drive and Explore

I live in the city but am so close to wide open spaces with much less traffic. Changing a driving routine is a simple way to help shift your viewpoint. Country drives can be calming and may offer great scenery. Visit small, local markets with homemade meals, baked goods, and unique products along the way.

14. Declutter and Decorate

Cleaning up, decluttering, and putting a bit of holiday cheer into your space can certainly help lift the mood. Change things up a bit with the holiday decorations, and keep things as simple or elaborate as suits you. Appreciate the views and rituals that help make the holidays a little brighter.

15. Be Grateful for the Small Things

There are things in life unique to us individually, however big or small, that are worth being grateful for. Avoid too much comparison to others. Maintain openness and compassion, and experience the joy of the holiday season in whatever ways work for you.

© 2020 Nella DiCarlo


Nella DiCarlo (author) from Guelph, Ontario on December 10, 2020:

Thank you Umesh.

Nella DiCarlo (author) from Guelph, Ontario on December 10, 2020:

That is so sweet! Definitely would help lift the spirit.

Nella DiCarlo (author) from Guelph, Ontario on December 10, 2020:

Thanks Linda, I am glad to hear that.

Nella DiCarlo (author) from Guelph, Ontario on December 10, 2020:

Thank you so much, and you as well!

Nella DiCarlo (author) from Guelph, Ontario on December 10, 2020:

Thank you Liz, appreciated. Definitely a different season this year.

Nella DiCarlo (author) from Guelph, Ontario on December 10, 2020:

Thanks, glad to share.

Nella DiCarlo (author) from Guelph, Ontario on December 10, 2020:

Thank you Jo, I appreciate it

Jo Miller from Tennessee on December 06, 2020:

Really great advice here and so needed at in today's times.

Ankita B on December 06, 2020:

Great tips. Thank you for sharing.

Liz Westwood from UK on December 06, 2020:

You give some helpful tips that will come in useful this year as we approach a very different Christmas season.

Chrish Canosa from Manila Philippines on December 05, 2020:

These is exactly what I need!!!

A lots of thank you to you!

Enjoy the rest of the week and God bless ;-)

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 05, 2020:

Thank you for sharing these ideas. This could be a difficult Christmas. I like your tips very much.

FlourishAnyway from USA on December 05, 2020:

We have Christmas costumes for the cats (Santa hats and beards, etc) and we like to dress them and pose for photos. Some are more cooperative than others. We have six ranging in age from 2 to 16, several with disabilities and all strays from the neighborhood that we have welcomed in and vetted. The photos are really fun and create great memories.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 05, 2020:

Nice tips. Thanks.

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