Many look forward to the holiday season as an opportunity to express goodwill and spend time with family and friends. But the details that can make the season so wonderful, can also lead to increased levels of anxiety and stress. In addition to an everyday hectic lifestyle, time must now be found for shopping, wrapping, cleaning, baking, and extra social gatherings. It is natural to feel overwhelmed during the holiday season, but there are ways to relax and truly enjoy this special time of year once more.

Practice Breathing
When stressful feelings or a racing mind lead to tension, take deep breaths. Deep breathing allows additional oxygen into your system, and can calm the body and mind. Being aware, and taking in deep breaths throughout the day will result in a calmer demeanor.

Exercise
Many skip exercise during the holiday season in an attempt to complete holiday chores. Exercise increases adrenaline which naturally creates a happier outlook. You’ll feel more energized and ready to take on more tasks. Take advantage of the season by walking outdoors or ice skating, the added benefit being that those extra treats will be worked off without worry.

Treat Yourself
Eating healthy and getting a proper amount of sleep is key to keeping stress at a reasonable level. Due to the frantic pace of the season, extra nurturing may be necessary. Take a long hot bath, sip a steaming mug of cocoa, or make an appointment for massage therapy. You might be surprised by what a massage therapist will tell you about how you carry stress in your body. Yes, those things may take up a little time but they are the reward for the extra tasks you’ve accomplished and are well deserved.

Enjoy Holiday Activities
A lot of tasks may appear obligatory and make the season feel like a long schedule, so pick the only season’s most enjoyable activities and make sure to do them. Make a pan of fudge and eat a piece. Decorate the tree while listening to favorite holiday tunes. Sled down the biggest hill, or build a snowman with the kids. Amidst the added responsibility of the season, it can be easy to forget the truly enjoyable portions so do what you love most, first!

Adjust Expectations
It is acceptable to change, or even drop traditions. Host a potluck instead of making that huge meal, and shop online rather than travel through multiple stores. How you celebrate is unique to your desires and feelings, do what works for you.

It’s unrealistic to expect the “perfect” holiday as it simply doesn’t exist. The world won’t end if tasks don’t get completed. Enjoy the imperfect holiday season, drink a cup of hot cider, and above all, learn to relax.