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The holidays should be full of merry, not malaise and malcontent. Dr. Samantha Boardman outlines easy steps for keeping calm and happy this season. For more from Dr. Boardman, read Positive Prescription.

1. Give Your Time Away

Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Deliver meals to the homebound. Write a note to a friend or relative expressing how much that person means to you. Doing things for others will make you feel less rushed and serves as a great reminder of what really counts.

2. Get Fresh Air

As tempting as it might be to curl up by the fireplace, spend at least 20 minutes a day outside. It will boost your mood and clear your mind of negative thoughts.

3. Avoid Hot-Button Topics At Family Gatherings

Steering clear of heated subjects doesn’t mean you have to talk about the weather. Ask relatives questions about family history or other topics of genuine interest to all of you. You might learn something.

4. Know Your Triggers

Holiday stress combined with the increased abundance of calorie-packed treats can lead to unnecessary eating and drinking. Be aware of those situations and your choices. Life isn’t on hold until January 1. Do not use the holidays as an excuse to put health on the back burner.

5. Embody gratitude

Take giving thanks to heart. In addition to counting your blessings, think of gratitude as an action. Contribute to something. Add value.

— Dr. Samantha Boardman
Samantha Boardman, M.D.
Clinical Instructor in Psychiatry and Public Health
Assistant Attending Psychiatrist
Weill Cornell Medical College