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Keep the Holidays Stress-free!

The holidays usually are a magical time for people, but there is also a looming cloud of stress and financial worry that attaches to the wonderful season.

Tips to prevent holiday stress: When stress is at its peak, it's hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.

Reach out. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.

Be realistic. The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions, and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on-to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can't come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.

Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. Also, be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry.

Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. Try these alternatives: Donate to a charity in someone's name. Give homemade gifts. Start a family gift exchange. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That'll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. Lastly, make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.

Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity. If it's not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.

Don't abandon healthy habits. Don't let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Try these suggestions: Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don't go overboard on sweets, cheese, or drinks.

Get plenty of sleep.

Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.

Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone without distractions may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm. Some options may include: Take a walk at night and stargazing.Listen to soothing music. Get a massage.Read a book. Keep the holiday season a positive one!

What areas make you feel overwhelmed over the holiday season? What will you focus on to ensure you stay feeling peaceful?

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