THE BLOG
11/30/2016 10:13 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Simple Gesture to Minimize Stress During the Holidays

No matter who you are, where you live or what your background is, this time of year tends to be chaotic for everyone. The days are jam packed with work meetings in an effort to get it all in before the holidays; social calendars are filled, often double booked on weekends for both kids and adults; and the shopping trips often create heightened traffic and chaos in our local communities. It's hard to be Zen because everyone is moving in different directions. Many Americans cite the holidays as the most stressful time of year. So, how can we really make this easier on ourselves? As a healthy lifestyle writer and public speaker, last year, I focused on various stress management tips and modalities for the holiday season. This year, I want to keep it simple, one tip - just smile.

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I'm a seasoned smiler. When I was in junior high, I used to run into the bathroom in between classes to re-apply my ice blue-pink lipstick. My girl friends would laugh at me because my next move was to smile at myself in the mirror. It didn't seem funny to me, just natural. If I wanted to see what I looked like in the hallway, I had to smile. In retrospect, it also gave me a jolt of positive energy, a sense of calm before I walked out into the frenzy of junior high drama.

Now, when I'm in the midst of a heavy deadline, disagreement with my son, or stressful conversation, an unexpected laugh or a big ear-to-ear grin always brings a release of positivity. Truthfully, I don't always draw upon this easy tactic. But, why not...especially during this harried holiday season? Holiday cheer isn't just about the parties, presents and good times, it's about spreading this love so we all can feel it.

What if I put down my phone and smiled at the checkout employee at the grocery store? Wouldn't it feel good and produce a quick conversation or kind gesture?

What if I disconnected from technology while walking in/out of stores, looked at others in the eyes and smiled at them all? Would this induce them to smile to others and pass on this good feeling?

What if we all found opportunities in our daily lives to be present in any given stressful moment and then smile: in a long line waiting for a parking spot, caught in traffic around the malls or waiting for your kids to finish their meals at a restaurant. A smile, whether authentic or forced, often can help promote happiness, even in tough situations.

My wish this holiday season is for us all to find a way to create our own joy and minimize stress. I will be finding way to host my own #SmileExperiment. Will you? Happy Holidays.

A similar post originally appeared on PrettyWellness.com. You can follow Caryn on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for more healthy living stories.