December is National Stress-Free Family Holidays Month.

If you chuckled when you read that, you’re not alone. The holiday season is frequently described as the most stressful time of the year, but it is also commonly regarded as one of the most special and meaningful times of the year, too. Here are some ways you can manage your stress level so you can enjoy the fast-paced final few weeks of the year:

  1. Resist the pressure (or temptation) to schedule multiple events in one day, weekend, or week. Different people have different thresholds for socializing and events; know your own limits and honor them.
  2. Avoid over-indulging. Too much junk food and alcohol, combined with less sleep and exercise, can make for some pretty miserable days. Treat yourself to your favorite treats, but stop short of indulging in all the treats.
  3. Try to maintain your normal routines as much as you can. Festivities are much more special and joyous when balanced by the normalcy of day-to-day life.
  4. Set your spending budget in advance and stick to it, so you aren’t spending the holidays worrying about the debt you’ll face in the New Year.
  5. Rather than dashing from store to store all over town for gifts, consider giving gifts you enjoy making, making a donation in their honor, or purchasing gift cards. “It’s the thought that counts” is still true, even after all these years.
  6. Perfect is the enemy of good. Don’t try to create holiday perfection for your family. More than any fancy gift or decorations, your children will remember the time you spent together, the meaningful traditions you shared, and the love they received.
  7. Take time to enjoy the quiet of the season. Have a quiet cup of coffee and admire the lights on the tree. Lounge in front of the Virtual Fireplace on Netflix or YouTube. Spend an afternoon alone wrapping presents or addressing holiday cards. These quiet moments allow for reflection and the chance to rest during the busy season.
  8. “No” is a complete sentence.
  9. Don’t forsake your most meaningful traditions. No matter how busy your schedule gets, protect the activities and traditions that make the season personally meaningful to you and your family.
  10. You may wish to turn #9 on its head if you are grieving a loss this year. Sometimes it helps to set aside traditions that particularly remind you of your loss, especially when it is fresh. Do what feels best to you.
  11. Set aside differences with loved ones for the time being. Remember: even soldiers on World War I battlefronts called a ceasefire for Christmas Day!
  12. Give to others. One of the best ways to ease a high stress level is to appreciate your own blessings by serving those who have less.

Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee wishes you a joyous and healthy holiday season and a fantastic new year!