Avoid the stress. Embrace the joy.

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For many people, the holidays are often the most stressful time of the year. Whether it’s the hustle and bustle of consumerism, difficult family dynamics, loneliness, anxiety or just general exhaustion, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. And while many aspects of life are beyond your control, there are specific things you can do to help fill your holiday with peace and light.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Lower your expectations. It’s easy to idealize the holidays. In reality, life is never like a Norman Rockwell painting. It’s possible to lower your expectations without lowering your standards. Try your best to extend grace to yourself and to those around you. Remember that everyone experiences stress differently and that some people are fighting a battle you know nothing about. Your friends and family will disappoint you, circumstances will not go the way you hoped – and that’s okay. Perhaps more than ever, this is the season to be selfless, generous and kind.
  • Say yes. Folks who struggle with loneliness often have a particularly hard time during the holidays when family togetherness is constantly on display. While your inner monologue is telling you to lock the door and hibernate until February, resist the urge. Attend that happy hour you’ve been dreading, accept an invitation to a friend’s party or make plans to see your extended family. While getting there is often the hardest part, consider the fact that you might actually have a nice time.
  • But say no too. Sometimes we say yes too much – and it’s overwhelming and exhausting. Think about the events that bring you the most joy, and stick to those. Instead of cramming something into every night, embrace the quietness of the season. Spend some time at home relaxing, watch a movie or catch up on some reading. Remember that you’re in control, and the holidays don’t have to be hectic if you don’t want them to.
  • Reflect. With the New Year right around the corner, it’s a great time to look back on everything you’ve experienced in the previous months. Even if 2018 wasn’t your golden year, you can probably still identify some bright spots. Remember the people who showed up for you, and thank them. Frame a picture from a special moment that made you smile. Or compile a list of your favorite memories. Instead of focusing on the negative, set yourself up to ring in the New Year with a renewed sense of hope for the future.
  • Be good to yourself. It’s hard to spread holiday cheer when you’re physically running on empty. Try not to neglect yourself this time of year, regardless of how busy you are. Stick to your usual routine and be vigilant about exercise, healthy foods and sleep. It will be easier to manage the heightened stress of the season if you’re physically, mentally and emotionally at your best.

Cheers to you and your family this holiday season. May it be filled with love and light!