The holiday season can be stressful for many people. There are several activities people try to manage. Several mindfulness strategies can help reduce stress and allow you to experience a calmer holiday season.

- Practice active listening. It can be easy to tune out during all of the holiday hustle and bustle. By minimizing distractions, you may be surprised how much more you observe and hear which can be very rewarding.

- Be open to the emotions of others. Consider the feelings of others around you during the holiday season. You can increase your ability to connect by being observant and receptive to them.

- Be open to a range of emotions in yourself. Unfortunately, the holiday season can trigger a mixture of emotions that are not always joyful. Consider allowing yourself space and recognize these feelings you may experience.

- Let go of old habits or patterns that might be holding you back. There are many traditions and memories that the holidays bring. However, sometimes old patterns can disseminate negativity. Be mindful of patterns that are bothersome. Allow yourself to be open to new experiences.

- Expand how you communicate care. Many cultures practice gift-giving during the holidays. However, there are many additional ways to show you care. Before making a purchase, consider asking yourself what you are trying to communicate through the gift. There may be alternative ways to express your feelings or care like spending quality time or doing something nice for someone.

- Let go of judgment of yourself and others. Try to avoid conflict with others during the holiday season. This can lead to judgment and self-esteem issues. Take a step back and enjoy even the little things.

- Be aware of your needs and practice self-compassion. Although the holidays can bring many obligations, try to make time for yourself to avoid burnout and bitterness. Engage in fun and relaxing activities. When you do this, you may discover you will be more giving to others.

We have the opportunity to make wise choices about our physical and mental health during this high-stress season. This is a time to celebrate joy. Do not allow self-induced pressure to negatively affect your enjoyment of the holidays.

For questions on this topic or others, stop by the K-State Research and Extension – Leavenworth County office, 613 Holiday Plaza in Lansing, or call at 913-364-5700.

Chelsi Myer is a family and consumer sciences agent for K-State Research and Extension – Leavenworth County.