Commonly thought of as a joyful time of year, the holiday season is full of many wonderful events. Parties, exchanging gifts, decorating, baking, and other activities fill our calendars throughout the season. Returning home to visit family and friends is a common holiday activity that has become routine for many. Although visiting with family can bring cherished and happy moments, it can also be a source of stress.black and white photo of pensive man
If you typically face stressful situations when visiting family over the holidays, there are steps you can take to create the most positive experience possible. As you get ready for your holiday visit, review these tips to help keep calm for the duration of your stay:

Utilize Deep Breathing Exercises

In moments of intense stress, deep breathing is an exceptional way to hit the “pause button” on your body’s response to the situation. Using a breathing exercise when you are in the middle of a stressful situation will help reduce tension and ease anxiety within minutes.

Exercise Regularly

Not only is regular exercise wonderful for your physical health, but it is also essential in keeping your mind relaxed. Exercise has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression, and increase levels of endorphins in your body, which helps boost your mood (Mayo Clinic).

Avoid Discussing Controversial Subjects

Nothing can be more stressful at the dinner table (or anywhere else, for that matter) than being forced to participate in a conversation that deals with a controversial subject. Although you cannot control what subjects others bring up, you can control the conversation you introduce. Stay away from subjects that can stir up heated discussions among your family members. Keep conversations as friendly and positive as possible.

Let Go of Perfectionist Tendencies

Being a perfectionist during the holidays can create highly stressful situations. No matter how well you have planned your holiday gathering, things can (and do) go wrong. A side dish may end up being overcooked, you might forget to pack your holiday attire, or any other number of things could make your visit less-than-perfect. By learning to accept the occasional bumps, you will feel a lot more relaxed during your stay.

Plan a Relaxing Activity Each Day

The holidays can often become a flurry of activities, especially when going back home to stay with relatives. Between the cooking, cleaning, gift wrapping, and everything in between, you may not have a spare moment to decompress from it all. To help preserve your health and stress levels, plan something relaxing for each day of your visit. Take at least 30 minutes each day to engage in a favorite activity that will help you wind down. Read a book, take a warm bubble bath, do yoga, or anything else you consider to be relaxing.