The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s not uncommon to experience stress, depression and anxiety as well. The holidays often present many demands – holiday meals, shopping, baking, cleaning, social obligations, houseguests and relatives are all potential stressors.

Here are some tips to help you minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays. 

Father and daugher bakingPlan ahead
Creating an action plan can help relieve stress. Write down all the things you need to do so you can prioritize the things that are most important. A list also makes it harder for things to slip your mind.

Put yourself first
Set aside some time to do things you enjoy. Don't abandon healthy habits. Find time to exercise, plan a dinner out, or just enjoy a few minutes of fresh air. Include regular physical activity in your daily routine.

Stick to a budget
Create a budget and stick to it. Spend only what you can afford, and if you don’t have the ability to spend anything, bake a treat or offer your talents and time to your friends and loved ones as gifts. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.

Christmas dessertAcknowledge your feelings
It may be difficult to celebrate the holiday season if you’ve lost someone dear to you or distance makes it difficult to spend time together. It is ok to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.

Don’t be afraid to say no
Understand that it’s okay to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity.

Set aside differences
Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes wrong. Chances are they are feeling the effects of holiday stress too.

Be realistic
The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. Even though your holiday plans may look different this year, you can find ways to celebrate.