Expert Tips to Keep Happy This Holiday Season

When all else fails: breathe.

ByABC News
November 23, 2015, 2:49 PM
Friends arrive with a stack of gifts to celebrate the holidays in this undated file photo.
Friends arrive with a stack of gifts to celebrate the holidays in this undated file photo.
Getty Images

— -- The holidays are upon us, and while they should be a time of great thanks and giving, far too often we're left feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

"As the business of planning and preparing sets in, it is important that we slow down a tad and take the time to focus on the things that really bring us joy, spending time with people you love, enjoying great meals together and not forgetting to have fun," said Deborah Heisz, editorial director and co-founder of Live Happy, a lifestyle magazine.

Heisz makes a living of being happy. She shared with ABC News her top tips for staying happy this holiday season.

Be present

"A big part of the holidays for most of us is spending quality time with our families, but being physically in the same room focused on your phone isn’t exactly quality time," said Heisz. So ask questions, be attentive and give the phone a rest when you're with friends and family this holiday season.

Be grateful

That goes for gifts you already have...or hate. Heisz said studies have shown that feeling and expressing gratitude can greatly enhance your life satisfaction.

Give and give back

"The holidays are great to celebrate with family and friends, but there are plenty in need during the season, so find ways to give back that involve the whole family such as serving food or collecting presents for those in need," said Heisz.

Laugh hard

"Finding time to laugh is a great way to relieve stress, but it can also make you feel better and, most important, happy," said Heisz. "We found many expert medical opinions that say laughter can have dramatic positive impacts on our overall health. Make sure to take a break and watch a funny movie or TV show, or laugh it up with your friends to help lighten your mood."

Stay connected

"People are social beings, and we need to feel connected to feel good," she explained. "It is in our DNA to seek out social relationships; studies show that each happy friend you have can increase your probability of being happy by nine percent. Even if you are miles apart from someone who makes you happy, pick up a phone or Skype to show them you still care."

Stay healthy

"Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you have to give up on working toward better physical well-being," said Heisz. "The American Heart Association recommends exercising at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week to experience benefits to your physical health. Plus, you need something to keep off the calories from all the sweet treats."

Be mindful

"If the holiday stress starts to get overwhelming, take some time and brush up on your mindfulness techniques," said Heisz. "Breathing exercises can be greatly effective for reducing anxiety and redirecting your focus. Even as little as 10 minutes of meditation can calm you down and clear your mind."