Sneer to Cheer: Making the Holidays Happy

It’s that time of year again. The time when stockings are hung over fireplaces, trees get decorated, kids write letters to Santa and malls play jingle bells as people search for that perfect gift for the special people in their lives.

That’s right, it’s Christmas time.

Christmas is the best time of the year. The snow makes everything it touches sparkle, streets shine with colourful Christmas lights. You always have a reason to get in your pajamas, curl up on the sofa with a hot chocolate and watch your favourite Christmas movie, making for the most perfect night.

But this isn’t the case for everyone. For some people, the stress of the holiday’s turns them into their families Scrooge making it hard for them to truly enjoy this joyous time of the year.

And if you’re a student, exams make it impossible for you to feel anything other than complete panic.

But you don’t have to be. You can keep yourself from becoming the Grinch and ruining what could be the highlight of your year.

  1. Don’t fight it, embrace it

It comes, and it comes early. The Christmas fever starts to hit as early as mid-November and there’s no stopping the stores from playing their Christmas music and selling their holiday merchandise as early as Nov 1. As stressful or annoying as this may be it’s not going away. So instead of avoiding stores or stressing out because of the first signs of Christmas, embrace them.

“It’s my favourite time of year and I always look forward to it,” says Kathy Pereira, fourth-year health science student at the University of Ottawa. “It’s important because it’s the one time of year when I’m in school where I really get to spend time with my family and friends.”

  1. Get in the mood

If you’re not feeling the holiday cheer, make yourself feel it. Play cheesy Christmas music on repeat. Sure, it’s the same songs you’ve been hearing since you were born, but you can’t deny that hearing Santa Claus Is Coming to Town gets your head bobbing.

Watch the classic Christmas movies, visit Santa Claus at the mall, whatever it is that makes you excited about Christmas.

“I started really early this year,” says Pereira. “We decorated the house. First weekend of December and my tree was up. Just making the place that you spend most of your time in festive, really gets you in the spirit. And just cozying up on the couch with a Christmas movie, like nothing gets you more in the mood than that.”

  1. Start your shopping early

For most people half the stress of the holidays comes from shopping for their loved ones. And for students, Christmas comes right around the time of exams, so shopping gets pushed aside. And before they know it they only have three days to shop, wrap and distribute their gifts.

“I started my shopping in September and I was done by Dec 1,” says Nicole Stunden, second-year early childhood education student. “It’s a lot easier to do it early, and a lot less stressful. I’ve gone to the malls on Dec 23 and its chaotic and quite stressful, I don’t know why people do it.”

By starting your shopping early, you not only avoid the packed malls and busy stores but also keep yourself from having one more thing to stress about in an already stressful time.

Instead, you can enjoy picking out and deciding what to buy your friends and family.

  1. Continue old traditions

Half of what makes the holidays special is the yearly things you do. Whether that’s helping your parents put up the Christmas tree or watching Die Hard on Christmas Eve do the things that bring you back to what made Christmas so exciting when you were growing up.

“Every year me and my brother get a new ornament,” says Pereira. “Now we have this huge collection that we’ve been building up since I was about five or six. So its really nice to put up the tree every year and take the ornaments out and see how each of them symbolize a different time in your life.”

Traditions are something Pereira holds as one of the most special aspects of Christmas.

“To me traditions are the most important part of Christmas because they’re stuff that you look forward to.”

  1. Do something for yourself

Christmas is a time to be with and do things for the people you love. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do things for yourself.

At Christmas, we are so focused on other people that we forget to do things for ourselves.

“Every year I buy myself something little,” says Stunden. “A little Christmas present for myself to say, you know you’ve done all your Christmas shopping, treat yourself. That’s something important and that really relaxes me.”

Doing things for yourself during Christmas helps you keep a level head and balance everything that is stressing you out in life.

“Christmas isn’t usually a time when I focus on myself,” says Pereira. “But I usually buy myself one thing that I’ve been wanting all year round. It’s important to do that because it’s easy to get lost thinking about everyone else and it’s important to always take care of yourself because Christmas can be very stressful.”