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It’s the most wonderful time of the year…or is it?  All the shopping, gift wrapping, cookie baking, meal preparation, party-going, and family gatherings can increase your stress level just thinking about it.  It seems along with all the holiday cheer,  comes stress from demands and deadlines of the season.

Here are some simple suggestions to de-stress around the holidays:

  • This is a big one – don’t let your expectations of the season (how you think the holidays “should be”) get in your way of experiencing the more meaningful joy it brings.
  • Begin your planning early – formulate a holiday timetable and avoid fitting things in at the last minute.
  • Limit the amount of holiday party invitations you accept and make more time for yourself and your family.
  • Set gift limits to match your budget ahead of time – be realistic and stick to it.
  • When entertaining, limit the number of people invited.  If guests offer to bring dishes, accept their offer!
  • Cook or bake ahead of time – those food items that can be baked or cooked and frozen in advance can be made weeks ahead.
  • This one’s for all you people pleasers out there – don’t ruin your own holiday trying to please others.  Learn how to say “no” to avoid stressing yourself out.
  • Schedule time for physical activity in your day – walking briskly or taking a bike ride will help to keep your stress in check.
  • Maintain a steady weight – avoid overeating and bring your focus on connecting with others.
  • Listen to music – you can create your own holiday play list to lower cortisol levels, blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety.
  • Let go of any past family arguments – move on.

To truly enjoy the holidays, live the spirit of the season by giving to others.  Did you know that the experience of giving activates a part of the brain that brings us physical pleasure?  Take time to reflect on your life and be grateful for all of your blessings.  Laugh, spend time with family and friends, and share memories… as well as making some new ones.

 

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/garysoup/6529204863/”>Gary Soup</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>