Right about now, you're probably starting to wonder whether the holiday season is really worth it — all the joy seems to come with just as much stress.

Before the gratifying feeling of watching loved ones unwrap gifts, there is the hassle of buying them; before gathering together to celebrate, there are huge year-end deadlines to tackle at work; and joy of renewal on Jan. 1 mingles with the regrets of everything that didn’t get accomplished in 2015.

RELATED: Why you should take that vacation — right now!

Trying to relax in December can seem next to impossible. And while this has been the year of meditation, sitting alone with your thoughts is not everyone’s idea of a relaxing exercise. We’ve got some other ways to find your zen and keep the season bright.


Imagine shutting out the world and letting the borders between you and reality dissolve — this is floating, where you immerse yourself in silence and salt water inside a soundproof, dark pod.

“I’m sort of addicted to distraction, I normally hate to be alone with my thoughts, but for whatever reason it’s just fun to be in the tank,” says David Leventhal ofLift/Next Level Floatsin Brooklyn.

RELATED:Winter is the best time to start doing yoga

The chambers have about 10 inches of water that’s heated to body temperature, where you’re meant to float for an hour — or eight, as Leventhal recently did — without any physical sensations, allowing the mind to “expand in other directions,” he says.

The high concentration of epsom salt will naturally buoy you and keep your skin from getting pruney; you may even feel not just mentally but physically more relaxed as your body absorbs magnesium, which helps with circulation and lowering inflammation.

The last time you picked up a coloring book, your fine motor skills were probably being graded by a kindergarten teacher. A couple of decades later, this simple joy has been reimagined way beyond coloring by numbers into anew trend of adult coloring books with intricate patterns, from rainforests to mandalas, designed to help grown ups de-stress.

RELATED:7 foods to protect your skin from winter

Thehealing power of art— to express emotions and even relieve physical pain — has long been used to benefit everyone from those undergoing cancer treatment to the mentally ill. But anyone can benefit fromthe simple joy of creativity, focusing on something instead of the many worries and distractionsof the day, and the satisfaction of finishing a project.

It can also be a more structured creative outlet for people who may not feel like they have artistic talent, while allowing others to create their own designs.

If you’ve ever felt pumped up by music, you already know it can affect your mood. But maybe you’ve also tried meditation to the sounds of a babbling brook and felt only an urge to go to the bathroom. Sound therapy uses instruments common in meditation practices — Tiberan singing bowls, tuning forks and bells — but played live, all together, their vibrations are just as vital as the sound they make.

RELATED:Berklee College is using music to manage pain

They’re struck in specific patterns to create vibrations that synch up with lower-frequency brainwaves to quiet your mind, which then slows down your breathing and heart rate and disrupts the pain/stress feedback loop that keeps the body and mind on edge.

A new method,vibroacoustic therapy, adds a water-filled cushion that has various vibration settings that claim to improve circulation while lowering blood pressure, and can be adjusted depending on patients’ physical and mental needs.

Most Popular From ...