Do the holidays delight or do they cause dread? For many people the holidays are fraught with emotion and difficulty. Some can almost see another conflict looming just around corner. Whether it’s enduring mealtime with a dysfunctional family or being faced with feelings of loss and loneliness, the holidays can be stressful, disruptive to your body, your emotions and your routines.

Emotional baggage of past holidays or unresolved issues between family members can turn any holiday season into a disaster.  Use The Emotion Code® to let go of the emotional baggage that can set you up for difficulty. Letting go of emotional baggage will enable you to celebrate the season with greater joy.

In addition to clearing emotional baggage, here are 6 additional tips to make the holidays more stress-free:

1. Decide ahead to be flexible about your expectations. Everyone else has expectations and sometimes they won’t match with yours. Plan for spontaneity. If you allow the plans that others have be a part of what brings you joy, you’ll have more fun as everyone shares ideas and activities. Attitude is so key to happiness!

2. Be aware of what your body needs. This includes healthy food, plenty of water, rest and exercise. So don’t throw your routines out the window just because of the holidays. Find a way to exercise so you’ll feel good. You can climb the stairs several times if you can’t make it to the gym. It would be smart to continue eating healthy even if no one else does. At holiday meals, share stories so you’re talking more and eating slowly. Enjoy salad so you’ll fill up on live food instead of the sugary desserts. You’ll feel better about yourself if you’re really taking care of your body!

3. Decide to take care of yourself emotionally. You may need specific things such as the emotional support of a spouse, a lunch date with a friend or even just some time alone. Decide how busy you want to be and how thin you want to spread yourself with holiday responsibilities and shopping. For example, don’t volunteer to cook dinner for the entire extended family if it interferes with your health, family time or if it feels like it’ll cause too much stress for you.

4. Communicate with love. If you’re feeling stressed about family interactions, you might go outside for a few minutes to get some fresh air. This is a better solution than another piece of pumpkin pie and will be easier to live with later. Be kind to everyone, including yourself. Give hugs. Make sure you’re not overreacting. None of us communicate perfectly. Try to see what others are really mean, not just what they say. Give them the benefit of the doubt because it’s likely no offense was meant. Ask for clarification and react appropriately, with kindness, love and forgiveness. Some people really don’t have a handle on their behavior but it doesn’t have to affect how you feel or be your problem.

5. Be among friends. If the absence of a family is your problem, join a group of other singles and have a potluck where you can focus on creating new friends and “family” instead of mourning your lack thereof. You don’t always have control over what happens to you but you can choose to respond proactively. Be the one who makes the holidays fun for others and it will be more joyful for you. Plan something in advance so you’ll have something to look forward to!

6. Take time to set goals with a plan for the New Year. Most of us tend to set large, far-reaching goals. They can be exciting and motivating and they should be! The trick is to set a plan as to how you will realistically accomplish them. If your overall goal is to lose 20 pounds, how will you do it? Set a completion date. Break it into smaller milestones by the month, week and day. If you get discouraged along the way, it could be due to emotional baggage. Resolve to not let Trapped Emotions get in your way in the coming year. You can create a rewarding journey as you clear the path and stay on course.


~ Dr. Bradley Nelson