11/30/2016 08:01 am ET Updated Nov 30, 2016

5 Ways To Enjoy The Holidays Just Like You Did As A Kid

Rediscover the magic of the season ✨
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Remember how excited you got about the holidays when you were younger? The lights, the presents, the cookies ― it truly was the most magical time of the year.

Then, you grew up … and, as it does for most of us, the stress of gift-giving and social obligations started to get in the way. It doesn’t have to be like that, though: With a few simple changes, you could cultivate the same sense of wonder you used to enjoy.

We’ve partnered with Chevrolet Malibu to bring you six ways to tap into a new sense of holiday joy ― just like you did as a kid.

1. Be Present

For the most part, kids don’t sit around worrying about the future or reflecting on the past; they simply live in the moment.

“By being present in the moment, we live our experiences to the fullest,” explains psychologist Katrina Stone. “Carve out time to do what you enjoy the most and limit distractions. Focus on each moment with renewed attention. What are your senses telling you? How do you feel? Research has demonstrated that practicing mindfulness has tremendous benefits with regard to stress reduction, and can yield improvements to health, mood and relationships.”

Want to put her suggestion into practice with a holiday spin?

Check out the holiday lights around your area and give yourself the permission to be part of the joy that lights and carols may bring, suggests Samantha Carbon, a London-based psychotherapist. “Switch off your mobile and watch an animated Disney movie; lose yourself in the magical world that unfolds,” she adds.

2. Play

What’s the most childlike thing you could possibly do? Play! As adults, we rarely give ourselves the freedom and time to enjoy simple activities ― especially during the busy holiday season.

“When children play, they’re immersed in the moment ― open and curious,” says Stone. “Find time in your holiday to play in a way that is meaningful to you. Whether that means an afternoon spent on the floor with a child building Legos, hiking a new trail or enjoying a leisurely evening out with friends, make time for what brings you energy and joy.”

Sure, you won’t be checking things off your list, but we promise it’ll feel pretty darn good all the same.

3. Just Say No

Do you dread going to your cousin’s annual holiday party? Then skip it. Want to forgo a gift exchange with your husband? Suggest a romantic dinner instead. Don’t do things just because you feel like you have to.

“The holidays are often known for excess,” explains Stone. “Too many places to visit, too much unhealthy food and too much spending on meaningless gifts. Say no to the obligations that leave you feeling depleted.”

As an example, she says, think of how young children prefer to play with the box rather than the toy. They’re not doing what’s expected of them; they’re doing what feels right.

“Let go of the elaborate plans or expectations that cause you stress and slow down to enjoy the simple things,” she says.

4. Apply The Beginner’s Mind

Have you heard of viewing life through a “beginner’s mind”? It’s a favorite strategy of Becky Beaton, founder and clinical director of The Anxiety & Stress Management Institute.

To put it into practice, she says, you should “look at each experience as if it’s brand-new without applying all the judgments, comparisons and expectations that we adults often assign to everyday experiences.”

Stone also thinks this is an excellent way to bring back that childlike sense of wonder.

“Children are able to sense and enjoy awe because they view the world with fresh eyes,” she explains. “When we enter adulthood, we often habituate to our experiences, leading us to take them for granted. Look for the beauty of your holiday through a new lens and imagine how each moment might feel if you were experiencing it for the first time.”

5. Love Unconditionally

Remember how many things ― and people ― you loved as a kid? You thought the librarian was your best friend and that every cup of hot chocolate was better than the last.

“As kids, our love is genuine and pure ― it never lies and we never hide it,” explains Dr. Mariana Calleja, creator of the online course “Don’t Stress It!”

So during the holidays, she suggests, simply “be” with your friends and family and bask in the warm and fuzzies. “When we’re right there, feeling such intense love, it never matters how much social nonsense and obligations there are.”

In the end, Calleja says, it all comes down to one thing: awareness.

”Becoming aware of your emotions, your actions and setting your own boundaries, will make all the difference in the way you manage your body, and in this case, the way you balance your stress levels and enjoy the holidays.”

Stone agrees, saying: “Despite the ‘magic of the season,’ the holidays can be rife with stressors that block our ability to enjoy them wholeheartedly. By taking a lesson from children, we can gain fresh perspective on the holidays and move our mindset from one of stressful obligation to conscious enjoyment.”

In between the milestones that we proudly celebrate are so many little moments that often slip by. The New 2017 Chevrolet Malibu is committed to helping you celebrate the surprises and delights of life ― big and small. Learn more about how the New 2017 Chevrolet Malibu can help you strive for the unexpected moments you deserve.