By Dr. Tranquility — Lydia Belton, PhD, Ct. H.A.

As someone who’s dating and marriage history would make the United Nations proud, I am all too aware that the holidays can add additional stressors to one’s search for love. You have to consider the integration of cultural differences as well as contrasting religious belief systems and traditions. After all, Christmas, Chanukah (Hanukkah), Kwanzaa, and many more important days overlap. It’s no surprise, then, that “the most wonderful time” is a great opportunity to create new memories and do some good for others. Whether you’re single, dating, or happily married, here are some basic tips for a happy holiday season:

Related Link: 10 Holiday Gift Ideas for That Special Someone

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff: This time of year means that your friends and family (in-laws included) often want to visit. If you’re single, it’s a great time to travel and enjoy new cultural experiences. Or perhaps you want stay home and host your own celebration instead. No matter how you decide to spend the holidays, remember that we always stress less when we enjoy each other’s company.

2. Get ready for family time: As noted above, the holidays mean traveling for many people (celebrities included — Jessica Simpson and Eric Johnson will be splitting their time between Dallas and Boston this year), which allows for extra bonding time. Know that there will most likely be holiday traffic, so don’t forget to load up your computer or tablet with your favorite books, games, and movies. Family gatherings are also a great time to learn more about your partner. Relatives won’t shy away from telling stories about your significant other’s childhood, even those that they would prefer be forgotten. Utilize your finely-honed listening skills and fall even more love with your beau.

3. Enjoy the ride: Do your holiday shopping together and take in the holiday decorations of your city. For a more charitable approach, volunteer at a local soup kitchen and drop-off toys for patients in a pediatric ward. Giving back always feels good, and what you receive in return just might surprise you.

4. Take advantage of being single: Now is the opportunity to enjoy being single! You can experience the usual party circuit or step out of your comfort zone and volunteer at a homeless shelter; either way, you’ll have the chance to bond with old friends and meet new people. Plus, the start of another year is a great time to meet someone special, so keep an open mind and an open heart.

Related Link: Three Tips to Stress-Free Holiday Dating

5. Give thanks: As the year draws to a close, take a moment to appreciate your life and prepare for a wonderful year ahead. Have fun with your loved ones, old and new. Set your desires and intentions for the next twelve months, and visualize what you want. When we least worry about things, they tend to fall into place.

Follow these tips, and you are on your way to a stress-free holiday. Happy holidays to all of you from Dr. Tranquility!

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