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  • Zameena Mejia

Stanford psychologist gives 4 science-backed ways to beat stress and stay happy over the holidays

While many people look forward to the time away from work for celebrations like Thanksgiving and Christmas, spending that time with relatives can put a damper on the holiday spirit.

But, according to Stanford psychologist and science director of Stanford's Center For Compassion and Altruism Research Emma Seppälä, there are ways to beat the holiday blues.

"For some people, holidays are stressful, either because they are lonely, or they are financially burdensome, or because spending time with relatives is not an easy experience," Seppälä tells CNBC Make It.

When you find yourself in those moments, your increased feelings of stress and anxiety activate the sympathetic "fight or flight" response, Seppälä explains. This may be the reason why some people tend to "flee" (metaphorically) into over-consumption of alcohol or food, or even literally start a fight with relatives, she adds.

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