12/23/19 christmas present stock photo

One Purdue psychology professor has some advice for those seeking peace this holiday season.

Though the holidays are supposedly a time to get together with family and relax, many know the break can become one of the most stressful times of the year.

Psychology professor Louis Tay has some advice to help people get through what can be overwhelming celebrations. According to a Purdue press release, his work specializes in happiness and well-being, and he says people should be prepared for holiday plans that might not work out perfectly. 

The following tips from Tay are meant to help people keep up their spirits and enjoy their holiday break.

Think of holiday gatherings in a more positive light.

Understand that holiday celebrations might not be perfect from the get-go, and try to make the most of the time you have with others.

“Rather than dreading it, you could frame it as, ‘These are precious moments we can spend together,'" Tay said in the release. "'How many times do we get to do this together?’”

Ask for help when you need it

“One way to overcome (the stress of hosting) might be to involve others in helping with preparations," he said. "You may not be obligating them. People like to know they can contribute and volunteering their help may help them feel more engaged in the event."

Think "presence over presents"

Tay's research has shown "that positive experiences are more valuable for happiness than material goods."

"Of course," Tay said, "we can also give presents that will promote time together, such as vacations, board games, and the like.”

Take a moment to chill

Tay encourages those with holiday plans to slow down and actively schedule time to relax and decompress from festivities.

“We often try to cram so many activities into the holidays,” he said. “It is important to remember that being rested is foundational for well-being too. Take time to slow down: find time to rest, practice mindfulness, or just enjoy a good book.”

Listen to each other

Meeting with friends and families during the holidays can lead to conflict if controversial topics are brought to the dinner table.

“People often want to be heard and express their feelings,” Tay said. “You could also direct the conversation by asking reflective questions such as, ‘What is giving new purpose and meaning in your life so far? What has the year taught you? Is there something you can been thankful for this year?’”

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