A recent Harris Poll on behalf of American Greetings found that a whopping 71 percent of Americans feel stressed during the holidays and for 34 percent of those people, visiting with family tops the list of holiday stressors. While some respondents weren't excited about family coming over, 22 percent said traveling to visit family was the real problem.
Heavy traffic, crowded airports, and restless people can certainly make the trek to Grandma's house a little less merry. But whether you're traveling by train, plane, or automobile, your journey doesn't have to zap the cheer out of your celebration.
While practical strategies--like getting to the airport early--those tips won't erase all holiday stress. There are a lot of things you have no control over when you're traveling. But the one thing you can always control, is your attitude.
According to Giacomo Bono, an assistant professor of psychology at California State University Dominguez Hills, an attitude of gratitude is the secret to making holiday travel less stressful. Bono, who has conducted extensive research in gratitude, shares these four tips for exchanging stress for gratitude when you're traveling this holiday season:
1. Say thank you.
Remember to say thank you to everyone--the toll booth collector, the flight attendant, and the person who held the door for you. Be grateful that you are traveling to be with your loved ones for the holidays and acknowledge that not everyone has that opportunity. Research shows that the easiest way to feel better is to appreciate and help others.
2. Use social media to share your gratitude.
While you are waiting for your plane or train this Thanksgiving season, forget about the hustle and bustle around you and take a moment to pause and reflect about who has shaped your life. Research proves that simply writing down who you are grateful for triggers the positive health benefits of gratitude.
Create your thank list, a list of people you want to thank. Show your gratitude in the simplest form possible, via Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Post the names of people for whom you're thankful. Add #ThankList to start the chain reaction so they can join in on the conversation. It's about time we start seeing positive sentiments filling our newsfeeds!
Your willingness to share your gratitude on social media has an added benefit during the holidays. For each #ThankList shared on social, American Greetings will donate $1 to United Way Worldwide. Funds donated during the campaign will be allocated towards hunger prevention.
3. Make the best of your travel time.
Use the time in the car together to chat about your holiday traditions and what you look forward to the most during the holidays and identify who helps create each of those moments. Research shows that prioritizing experiences over things is what produces happiness. Quality social experiences, like traveling and being cooped up in a car, are packed with unexpected surprises that create lasting memories.
4. Keep your expectations realistic.
Let go of expectations of holiday perfection. There will be delays; there will be traffic. Remember that time spent together with loved ones is the best gift you can give and receive.