It is the most wonderful time of the year but it seems longer these days, no longer waiting to make an appearance until after Thanksgiving, and it often brings with it very non-festive feelings like anxiety and even depression. Too many demands on our time, too much money being spent, too many self-imposed expectations to deliver a perfect holiday. Our most wonderful time of the year has become our most stressful, too.

But you’re more in charge than you think. With a few smart strategies and tips, you’re ready to put the merry back in your holidays!

  • Remind Yourself That You’re In Charge. Yes, it sounds naive, but we often lose sight of the fact that we have choices. Use a calendar to mark the major holiday events you want to experience this year. Be selective…and stingy when it comes to scheduling any non-priority activities. There will be other years for new/different events. Visually tracking what you’ve decided to prioritize will help you work against over-scheduling.
  • Get Outside Every Day. Being outside in the sunshine, even in cold temperatures, is important to your well being. Remember that the happiest people on earth live in a very cold place! There’s something spiritually restorative about walking in nature, watching the sunrise or digging in the garden.
  • Stick To Your Healthy Routine. Don’t add to your holiday stress by feeling guilty that you’ve strayed from healthy habits and overindulged! Stay true to your daily routine to live healthfully and partake in the holiday indulgences with limit. Continuing to exercise, eat mindfully and sleep will enable you to better manage holiday stress and to come through the season with your positive habits in tact.
  • Hire Out The Chores. From home and curbside grocery delivery, to maid and laundry service, to healthy gourmet meals delivered to your door, find local businesses that can offset the list of chores to be done. Your sanity is worth the money, your holiday time is better spent…and the research shows you’ll be happier for it! Life satisfaction is higher for people who regularly — not just at the holiday — spend money to save time.
  • Prioritize time over traditions. The holidays are built on traditions and they deserve their place for sure. But holding onto too many traditions or overmanaging an event for the sake of tradition just adds to holiday stress. Plan to uphold a few key traditions this year. Allow for them to morph naturally into something new, accounting for how your life and your family are changing, or start the tradition of doing one completely new thing each year. Prioritize time spent together over doing things the same every year and over perfection.

So, relax and enjoy a less stressed holiday. Check out the advice from these expert sources for more ways to reduce stress at the holidays or at any time of the year.

The Mayo Clinic

Experience Life