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8 Tips to Reduce the Stress of the Holiday Season

If the holidays are a tough time for you, and they just seem like more work and headaches rather than enjoyment, there are somethings you can do to keep your sanity, remain calm and make it through the end of the year.
12/17/2015 03:36pm ET | Updated December 17, 2016
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Singer Andy Williams said, "It's the most wonderful time of the year." For many people it really is. They're able to get into the holiday spirit and fully enjoy it. But for some, it's quite the opposite and the holidays can actually be a very difficult time of the year. From the family get-togethers, traveling, shopping and worrying about money, decorating, cooking and more, the month of December is very tolling for many people.

If the holidays are a tough time for you, and they just seem like more work and headaches rather than enjoyment, there are somethings you can do to keep your sanity, remain calm and make it through the end of the year.

Give yourself permission
The first step in feeling better is giving yourself permission to feel the way you do. Some people have a difficult time with change or perhaps the holidays just don't appeal to them. Beating yourself up over it is only going to make it worse. Accept the way you feel and know that it's okay. You can't be expected to like everything in the world, and the holidays just aren't your thing.

Take it slow
Life is challenging enough as it is, and with all the extra commitments and things that have to get done this time of year, it can cause panic and chaos for even the most mentally tough people. When you find yourself moving a million miles an hour, take a step back and slow down. Instead of getting overwhelmed in everything you have to do, focus on one task at a time. Looking at one thing in front of you compared to the big picture makes it much more manageable.

Ask others to help
There's no reason you have to do everything by yourself during the holiday season. Ask for help. If you're hosting Christmas dinner, for example, ask your spouse or children to help with the shopping, cooking, decorating, setting up the guest bedroom, taking out the trash, walking the dog, etc. You don't have to a superhero. Delegate the responsibility.

Don't feel bad about saying 'No'
There's only so much time in a day, and with all the extra commitments at the holidays, don't feel guilty about telling people 'no.' A very simple response to soften it is, "I would normally love to help; however, I already have so much on my plate right now. I'll have to pass on the offer. I would love to help another time."

Focus on you
If the holiday season gets to be too much, take a break. Put everything down for a day and go do something you really enjoy. If you feel a day is too long, take 30 minutes to an hour and go for a walk, spend time doing something fun with a friend, take your kids to the park, read a new book, work on your business plan for the New Year, watch TV, meditate, or whatever it is that will take your mind off of the holidays. The idea is to escape the excess cognition that is bringing you down.

Talk it out
It's never a good idea to keep your feelings bottled up inside. If you're feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, talk to a close friend you can confide in, a therapist or try journaling. In fact, become your own best means of support and talk to yourself. Put things in perspective and tell yourself the craziness of the holiday season will only last for a few weeks and then life goes back to normal. Tell yourself it's only temporary and that you can hang tough a little longer.

Lower your expectations
Many people have ridiculously high expectations of what the holidays are supposed to be like. Stop paying attention to what you see on TV. Stop being influenced by those holiday catalogs. Take the pressure off and just let the holidays play out naturally. Relax and make it fun.

Focus on being rather than doing
One of the best ways to find happiness this time of year is to focus on being rather than doing. Make a list of the 10 things you are most grateful for in your life, and review them every morning for the month of December. Monitor how this simple activity impacts your emotions. If it helps you, it's something you can do throughout the year.

If you're one of those people who have a hard time and get stressed out and anxious this time of year, remember that the holidays only come once a year and before you know it, life will go back to normal. In the meantime, there's no reason to suffer or feel bad. There are many things you can do to help yourself make it through the holiday season.