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For many, the holiday season is a time of special memories, fellowship and celebration. But with that excitement and joy also comes a feeling that isn’t so pleasant – stress. There are many factors that can easily cause stress during the holidays. Below are five tips to help you manage that stress and focus on what matters most – celebrating and spending time with those you love.

Recognize Your Hurt

If the holidays are a time of sadness due to bad memories or loss of a loved one, accept your feelings. Don’t try to avoid the pain. Spend time with those that understand and try to do something you enjoy that is nurturing and comforting. Don’t forget – the holidays will come and go as they do every year. Keep in mind that although the environment around you is showing joy, others may be experiencing sadness.

Stick to a Budget

If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Look at what you’re comfortable spending and resolve to stick to that budget. If it’s going to be a tough year financially, get creative – try your hand at a homemade gift or suggest a gift exchange instead of multiple presents for each family member.

Consider Your Reality

Look at where you are in your life and be realistic about your expectations for the holidays. If you’ve recently experienced a major life change, such as the birth of a child or the start of a new job, you may not have the time to plan a lavish party or travel across the country for a holiday get together. Don’t get hung up on what someone else’s expectations are for you.

Learn to Say “No”

You can’t go to every party. You can’t make cookies for each child’s classroom. You might not want to host the holiday dinner this year. Know your limits and don’t be afraid to say, “I’m sorry, but I just can’t do it this year.”

Communicate Your Wishes

Make sure you don’t get swept into what everyone else wants to do for the holiday, and then miss out on something that is important to you. Make sure to do at least one thing that is guaranteed to make your holiday special.

If you find yourself struggling to manage stress or difficult emotions, no matter the time of year, remember that it’s okay to ask for help. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as looking after your physical health. Ask your primary care provider about a referral to Fairfield Healthcare Professionals Psychiatry and Health Psychology, and don’t be afraid to talk with a trusted friend or family member for support.