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Keep Stress At Bay During Hectic Days
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Wet wintry weather was not enough to keep shoppers away on Saturday as they searched out that perfect holiday item. Parking lots and city streets were filled with cars, indicating that neither rain, sleet nor a down economy are keeping locals from shopping Oakdale. - photo by Teresa Hammond/The Leader

For many people, Christmas is the most exciting and eventful time of the year. However, for some, it can also be one of the most stressful and exhausting times of the year. It is a time of added responsibilities and obligations, family drama, emotional overload, and financial strain. Fortunately, there are a variety of things you can do to keep your life peaceful and stress-free this festive season. Follow a few suggestions and you can have the best Christmas ever this year.

Plan ahead. One of the easiest things you can do to manage your stress levels this festive season is to plan ahead. Set a budget for your Christmas, write a meal plan and decide on your shopping list. This way you will have time to buy everything you need and stick to your budget.

Make sure to take a multivitamin. With all the hustle and bustle associated with the holidays, it can be really easy to neglect your health. If your body is not healthy it can add on to your stress levels as you will feel tired and unwell. Be sure to choose a multivitamin that contains a combination of vitamins as well as zinc, magnesium, and iron. Iron is crucial because it will help to keep your energy levels up while you run around after your family.

Set aside time for yourself. For a large percentage of people, Christmas may induce feelings of depression and anxiety. It can be incredibly tough to spend significant amounts of time with your family when you are not used to doing so. Set aside a day for yourself where you can do all the things that you love while you recharge your batteries.

Go for a walk. When things begin to feel overwhelming you should take just 10 minutes and go for a short walk around your neighborhood. The exercise will cue your brain to release endorphins that make you feel happy and relaxed. Additionally, the vitamin D you get from walking in the sun will help reduce your cortisol levels significantly.

Set boundaries. One of the easiest ways to avoid the stress associated with lots of family time is to set clear boundaries for yourself. Take responsibility for your own behavior and walk away from controversial discussions. You should also remember that it is perfectly acceptable to say no to doing things that add to your stress.

Buy a pre-made side dish. Is the mere thought of spending all day in the kitchen on Christmas sending you into a spiral of anxiety? That does not have to be the case. Go to your local grocery store and pick up a convenient pre-made side dish. There is absolutely no shame in this if it will benefit your mental health.

Do not forget your finances. Christmas is often associated with a variety of extra costs. You have to worry about buying gifts and entertaining your loved ones. Set yourself a budget and stick to it. You will be amazed at how much stress you can take off of your shoulders if you just follow this one simple step.

Stay away from alcohol. You have probably been there before. You have one too many glasses of wine at the office Christmas party and you end up embarrassing yourself. Then you need to cope with the stress of seeing your co-workers again the next Monday. Swap out your glass of wine for a club soda and lime. Not only will your liver appreciate the break, but you will have less stress overall.

Brush it off. One of the easiest ways to avoid stress during the holiday season is to let go. When someone says something that upsets you, take a deep breath and move on. Remember that sometimes it is better to avoid a fight to give yourself a calm Christmas.

Give yourself permission not to be perfect. Remember that not everyone is perfect. You are allowed to make mistakes and remember to have some fun. Christmas is the best time of the year to make lasting memories with your family.