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December has arrived. That means that familiar stress is also here. You know the kind we’re talking about. The kind of stress that comes with extra family time, holiday shopping and preparing for all the holiday parties and activities on your list this year. So how do you keep calm this holiday season and avoid flying off the handle?

Put Yourself First Sometimes

Be sure to set aside some time for yourself in all the craziness. Read a book, run a bath, take the dog for a walk or curl up to your favourite show. Time alone can help you collect your thoughts and give you a break from the constant distractions around you. Without that alone time, you might not find the patience you’ll need when the time comes. 

Learn Your Triggers

Maybe it drives you crazy when the relatives show up late every year. Or, it could be those crazy long lines in certain stores. Determine what the things are that set you off every year and develop healthy coping strategies for when they creep up. And if the same party or gathering brings you stress every year, maybe this is the year you don’t go. The holidays are meant to be a time of joy; if something continually makes you unhappy, there is no need to keep participating.

Learn to Say No

Make this the year you allocate your time properly to the things you WANT to do. You can’t be at every party.  You can’t be a part of every gift exchange. Choose the things you want to do most and stick to it. The people in your life will understand. They’re also busy trying to organize their hectic lives and responsibilities. 

Manage Your Expectations

Families usually fall into the same rhythm year after year. Grandpa carves the turkey. Uncle Saul double dips his chip. Everyone has a pattern or behavior they repeat. Learn to accept the people around you for who they are and manage your expectations. Remind yourself that everyone gets stressed over the holidays, not just you. Maybe instead of lashing out in frustration this year, do something nice for that person. You might just turn a potentially negative situation into something good. 

Surround Yourself with Positivity 

The holidays can be a lonely time for a lot of people. Especially with the recent passing of a loved one. While it can be tempting to isolate and be alone, try to spend time around people that bring your spirits up. The power of a positive friend or even just a simple hug is unmatched. There are also community programs and social events that bring people together over the holidays. Resist the urge to be alone and find warmth in a new friendship or memory.