The holidays are a wonderful time of year, but they also come with a lot of pressure. Hosting and attending holiday parties and get-togethers, buying gifts for loved ones, baking and writing cards leaves your more over-extended than normal. Don’t let your to-do list or other obligations suck the magic out of this time of year. Below are a few quick tips to help you manage your holiday stress so that you can allow yourself to enjoy the season for all it has to offer.

Practice gratitude.

Focus on being thankful for what you have. Many people fall into the trap of setting their expectations for this year’s celebrations to live up to a fantasy holiday or favorite holiday memory. Dreaming of how things “should be” is a slippery slope into disappointment. Shift your focus and practice gratitude for what is. Acknowledge all of the things in your life that are wonderful this holiday season.

Treat yourself to holiday comforts for each sense.

Add simple things to your daily ritual during the holidays and treat yourself to holiday comforts for each sense. Music, smells, decorations can awaken feelings of holiday traditions and cheer. This is a great way to appreciate the holidays without setting up yourself up for disappointment. And by all means, the point is to keep it simple. Rather than feeling pressure to create an elaborate meal or recreate every old family recipe, simply decorating the table, lighting a candle or playing music can create a special atmosphere and help you acknowledge the holiday season.

Just, breathe.

Getting yourself worked up about all of the last-minute shopping that you need to do? Anxious about seeing your relatives? Take one from your yoga class and try alternate nostril breathing. This will help to calm the nervous system before embarking on a stressful event. To do alternate nostril breathing, hold one finger over right nostril and leave left open and inhale. Then close the left nostril and open the right nostril and exhale. Repeat this 11 times and then switch sides.

When you are feeling overwhelmed, just get started.

If you can, get started on holiday tasks early and do something small each day. However, even if you’ve waited until the last minute or are experiencing an avalanche of tasks this year, the best thing to do is to simply get started. It’s easy to get overwhelmed thinking of all of the things that have to be accomplished and to let that stress impact your productivity. Simply getting started and crossing tasks off of your list will make your feel as though you are making headway, and calm your nerves.

Work it out.

Vigorous exercise is the best anti-depressant and anti-anxiety. That’s right, you knew this one was coming, so we saved the best for last. Make time for yourself to workout for at least 20 minutes each day. It will make the world of difference in how your feel.

What do you do to manage stress around the holidays? Share your tips and experiences in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Blacklord