The good news is that it is totally possible to manage holiday stress utilizing the following stress tips. After all there is no such thing as a stress-free life and we can all learn to handle it successfully.

Think about what you expect out of the holidays. Are these your expectations or do they come from someone else? Is what you’re picturing for the holiday celebrations something you really want or not? Is what you’re expecting based on times gone by or what is realistic for today? Are you expecting something that is actually possible or something you hope for but haven’t actually experienced in the past?

In predicting what will take place this holiday season, think about last year and the holidays before that. If no one ever gets along at the dinner table it’s highly unlikely they will start now, unless they make up their mind to behave better for the sake of the entire family. Having realistic expectations is the number one holiday stress tip! Go in with your eyes open and with realistic expectations and make up your mind to behave yourself and have a good time. You can only control your own behavior and if you accept this and don’t pin your hopes for enjoying yourself on other people behaving themselves, you should be fine.

When you make your holiday plans, make sure they are something you can carry out. If you need help from others, make sure you let them know what is needed. Don’t be shy about asking for help. Don’t bury yourself in work because that’s no fun for anyone. Holiday stress tip #2) Just do what you can easily manage and enjoy. Cook what you can and don’t invite too many people or spend too much money. Going overboard on any of these things can easily lead to anxiety and stress and ruin your holiday. Just pace yourself and only do what you can.

Holiday stress tip #3 is to remember to use your coping skills! If you start getting stressed out during a social event, how you are going to cope? Choose the strategies that will prove beneficial in the short and long term. You can always take a “time out” from whatever situation you find yourself in, take a walk, change the subject or politely leave. In fact, taking time out to relax, work on hobbies or exercise are great coping mechanisms for life in general. Who are you going to call on for support?  Sometimes, just going into the bathroom and taking some deep breaths can help you through a rough patch.

Stay focused on what’s important in life. People who focus more on relationships and social interactions over the holidays say they enjoy themselves more and are generally happier than those whose focus is on buying and giving out presents. Holiday stress tip #4) Know your priorities.  What’s important – buying the perfect gift, cooking the perfect turkey or pie or spending time enjoying family and friends?

If you still feel overwhelming sadness and/or anxiety you should consider the help of a professional. When everyday or holiday distress doesn’t go away, it’s probably not something holiday stress tips can address. When depression is preventing you from enjoying the activities you usually find fun, it’s time to contact a mental health professional.

Call Mental Health Resources