holiday stressThe holidays are meant to be a time of cheer and merriment spent with our closest friends and family. But the lead up to the holidays is often reported as the most stressful time of the year. With the headache of gift shopping, organizing people to come together with different schedules, and staying up late to bake snacks and cookies, it is no doubt taxing on your mental wellbeing thereby affecting your physical health. But feeling this way doesn’t have to be a part of the annual ritual.

This year, minimize the stress by doing things a little differently:

Delegate tasks and stick to your top priority items, leaving behind the nonessential chores. Make a list of absolute musts for the holidays and let the minor headaches fall to the wayside. If you need help with your to-do list, solicit the help of your partner or friends.

Don’t set unrealistic expectations for the family get-together. When the relatives come in to town, it’s not always immediate family cheer, so set aside simple, fun activities to occupy your guests. It could be something as simple as a walk around the neighborhood or a family board game. If you’re the visiting guest, establish early-on a tentative escape plan, in case you need to take a break.

Stay on track with your fitness goals. It’s common for people to put on at least a pound of weight with all of the tasty comfort foods arising from the holidays. But staying active can not only help counterbalance weight gain, it can also help you destress your mind. Even though time may feel tight, there’s always time to fit in a 15-minute run or a walk around the block.

Don’t put too much pressure yourself to get the latest and greatest holiday gifts, because when it comes to gift giving, it really candy caneis the thought that counts. People want most of all to feel thought of and appreciated, so don’t stress it if you can’t find that absolute perfect present. Sometimes the homemade gifts are the ones most cherished.

Take time out to appreciate what the holidays signify to you. It may be the time spent with loved ones or it may be the religious observance. Find what is most important to you to help you to remember to appreciate holidays’ significance.