Ready to ditch the stress and negativity? Bernice Ross shares how to laugh your way through the holidays. Here’s how to set yourself up for the most relaxed and enjoyable holiday season yet.

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This post was updated Nov. 21, 2023.

The official start to the holiday season is here. It won’t be long until it’s time to make  New Year’s Eve plans. The holidays happen fast and are typically a super stressful season for most of us.

Want to avoid as much of the stress as possible? Put a plan in place now. Here’s how to ensure you actually enjoy yourself throughout this holiday season and beyond. Hint: Laughter is part of the prescription.

Begin by clearing the negativity

Any great season begins by reducing the negativity in your environment. Here’s what to do:

1. Eliminate negativity, and be happy

When you are constantly bombarded with activity, exhausted and have a ton more to do, it’s hard to stay positive and optimistic. Because the brain’s reticular activating system can only process one conscious thought at a time, it’s impossible to hold a negative thought simultaneously with a positive one.

Consequently, when you catch yourself starting to complain, become angry or think negatively, stop and identify three things for which you are grateful. This can be as simple as finding a parking space up front in a crowded parking lot or hearing that the lump the doctor thought was cancerous is benign.

In fact, a great habit is to record a minimum of ten items a day for which you are grateful. Then, if you’re having a particularly difficult day, you’ll have a ready-made list to remind you of all the things that are still right in your life.

2. ‘Kill ANTS’

Daniel Amen, in his book, Making a Good Brain Great, references how damaging “ANTS” (automatic negative thoughts) are to your happiness and well-being, not only during the holidays but throughout the year.

“ANTS” include that critical voice inside of you that says, “You’re not good enough,” “You’re too fat, too old, too stupid” or any other negative self-talk that wears you down rather than supports you.

Amen suggests that you can “kill ANTS” by writing them down. When you see your “ANTS” on paper, you end the loop of self-talk, making it easier to concentrate on finding a solution to the challenges you are facing.

Proactively take control

After clearing out as much negativity as possible, take proactive steps by consciously choosing what is positive and supportive the upcoming season for you.

3. Under promise

Have you ever noticed how many people become sick during the holidays? It’s not actually the cooler weather. Instead, we pile on all the extra activities on top of everything else we need to do.

The best way to navigate through this process is to write down your priorities, rank order them and then focus only on doing the top 75 percent — let the bottom 25 percent go. If you must add an item to your top 75 percent list, eliminate at least one of the existing items.

4. Make ‘needs,’ not ‘wants,’ your highest priority

“Needs” are priority items that must be completed. “Wants” are things you may want to do, but are not an absolute necessity. Your top 75 percent list will consist primarily of needs while the bottom 25 percent will almost exclusively be wants.

Complete what’s on your top 75 percent list first. If you have time, you can then move to the 25 percent list when all those more important items are complete.

5. ‘No’ is a complete sentence

When someone asks you to do something that is not on your 75 percent list,  simply say “No” without explaining or justifying. If the person pressures you, tell them, “I have another commitment,” even if your commitment is relaxing at home.

6. Tackle big projects in pieces

If you’re sending holiday cards, gearing up for a big party or some other time-consuming event, spend 30-60 minutes a day over one week to accomplish what you need to do rather than trying to do it all at once.

In terms of allotting your time, plan on each project taking 25 percent more time than you believe that it will. By planning on everything taking longer than you expect, you avoid creating stress by trying to cram too many activities in too little time.

Be prepared

7. Go early

If you’re heading to the mall, plan on being there as soon as their doors open. Not only will you be able to pick up those early-bird specials, you’ll miss most of the parking hassles as well.

8. Let go of expectations

Stress often occurs when we have an attachment to how people will respond to our efforts, such as cards, gifts or even our presence. Enjoy each moment for the gifts it contains, even if that gift includes some disappointments.

Take care of you

9. Keep your alcohol and sweets intake at a minimum

At parties, choose non-alcoholic drinks and high-protein food along with fresh fruits and vegetables. This allows you to avoid blood sugar crashes that make you crave more food and alcohol. It also helps you to avoid that miserable diet in January.

10. Don’t spend the special time alone

Are you expecting to be alone this holiday season? Don’t be. Volunteer to serve a hot meal or visit a retirement home or an orphanage. Others will appreciate your efforts, and you’ll feel better too.

11. Laugh your way through the seasons 

Most importantly, give yourself the gift of smiles and laughter — both are great ways to chase away stress as well as the holiday blues by increasing your endorphin levels. When people are happy, they seldom get sick. So, put a smile on your face, laugh, and enjoy each day!

Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP ( and, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at and her new agent sales training at

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