Here's How to Have a Stress-Free Holiday Season It’s supposed to be the jolliest time of the year, but there are some things about the holiday season that can cause some serious behind-the-scenes stress and depression for a lot of people. Calendars booked solid with social demands, an ever-growing list of gifts to get bought and wrapped, bustling shopping crowds and the financial pressure to do it all within a tight budget––it can really put a damper on that holiday cheer. Don’t forget to pay attention to both your emotional and physical needs to stay positive, healthy and energized. Here are some tips to keep at the top of your nice list: Attendance isn’t mandatory Calendars quickly get maxed out with holiday parties, in-law visits, cookie swaps, get-togethers with friends you haven’t seen in ages and gatherings with your immediate family. It can get overwhelming and a lot of people end up spreading themselves too thin. Learn to say no instead of packing your calendar with events that leave you little time for yourself. Accept you can’t be everywhere at once. Too much running from place to place can take a toll on your mental and physical well-being and leave you feeling worn down. Avoid last-minute scrambling Crowded stores, long lines and jam-packed parking lots can cause anxiety. Plan out shopping lists that cover gifts, decorations and ingredients needed for meals or baking so that you can map out your errands efficiently. If crowds make you feel claustrophobic or anxious, skip the brick-and-mortar stores and instead shop online at a time when it’s convenient for you. Create a budget (and stick to it!) Don’t put yourself in a bad financial situation while trying to show people you care. Spending outside your means during the holidays can put your bank account in a hole that you’ll be working to climb out of long after decorations are put away. The emotional effects of debt are real––denial, stress, fear and depression that can lead to all kinds of problems. Give within your means. If that means no gift at all, don’t feel guilty or embarrassed. Your loved ones would much rather you be financially stable than to receive a gift that puts you in an unstable position. Family drama and dysfunction Gathering with family for the holidays can be one of the true joys of the season; on the other hand, it can sometimes create astonishing levels of tension. Being home for the holidays can bring up unpleasant reminders of your past––toxic relationships, deaths in the family, divorces and people or places that trigger past traumas. Even having to share a meal with a family member who may bring politically charged conversations to the table can cause sadness, grief or anger. Avoid unhealthy environments and plug into your support system if you need help. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your health, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician at 1-800-INSPIRA.