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Top 5 Tips for Reducing Holiday Stress

While many people will tell you that the holiday season is one of their favorite times of year, just as many will tell you that it's one of the most stressful. Busy schedules, hosting events, buying presents and getting together with family can all add up to stress during the holiday season, but by following these simple tips, you can subtract from your stress levels and make the season merrier.
1. Stay Organized. You are much more likely to feel stressed if your holiday season is chaotic. Use your smart phone or a calendar program on your PC to keep a schedule. Make lists of everything that needs to be done between now and the holidays and keep shopping lists for groceries, presents and other holiday essentials. Crossing things off your list will help you feel as if you accomplished something and reduce holiday chaos.
2. Keep to Your Exercise Regimen. The holidays are not the time to take a break from exercise! Keeping active will help you relieve stress. Plus, it will help to calm that guilt about going off your diet to enjoy some holiday treats, further reducing your holiday stress levels.
3. Know When to Say No. While the holidays are about giving, you can't give your all every day from now until New Years. Don't feel obligated to accept every invitation or help with every party or event. Ask yourself if you really have the time and energy to devote to baking cookies for the class party or need to  attend that holiday party at the house of the coworker you don't know all that well. Prioritize the events and activities that matter most to you and don't be afraid to say no to the others. You're much more likely to feel stressed about having to do something that your heart is not completely into.
4. Abandon the Idea of Perfection.
No holiday season has ever been perfect in every single way. And it’s highly unlikely it’s going to be this year either, so you don't need to try so hard to make it be. Some of the most memorable holiday dinners are the ones that are ruined and quickly replaced by Chinese takeout or frozen pizza. The story of how you forgot to buy that certain gift on time and had to present an IOU along with a quirky gag gift will one day make you smile instead of cringe. All of the holiday foibles that happen this year will not ruin the season so don't worry so much about everything going according to plan.
5. Keep Smiling. Believe it or not, when you smile, you feel less stressed. In fact, smiling even when you don't feel like it can actually improve your mood and make yourself more likely to want to smile on your own! When those stressful moments arrive, plaster on that smile and remember what the holiday season is really about.
The holidays will be here and gone before you know it. Take time to savor the moments and build memories that will last a lifetime. Don't let stress spoil those precious times with friends and family. Remember: you can't control everything that happens, but you can control how you respond to unexpected situations. Take a deep breath and face those holiday challenges in stride.

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