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Your to-do list may be long, but here are tips for enjoying a calmer and more stress-free holiday.

Some years it can feel like as soon as you’re done stuffing the Thanksgiving turkey, the remainder of the year goes by in a stress-filled flash. With so much to do, it’s easy for the holidays to become a source of stress rather than the most wonderful time of the year.

So how can you keep things merry and bright? Finding ways to ease stress can go a long way in upping your enjoyment of this festive time of year. Doing so not only makes your heart happier, but it may keep it healthier, too. That’s because stress is bad for your heart. In fact, more heart attacks occur during the holiday season than at any other time of year.

There’s no reason to make stress the key player in your holiday story. Here are 7 tips to stress less so you and your heart can get the most out of the holidays:

Get Organized

You don’t have to start doing Christmas shopping in July, but start your planning early. Make a list of people to buy gifts for, plan your holiday dinner menu or begin addressing holiday cards. Anything that makes you feel organized will help put your mind at ease going into the holiday season.

Don’t Overbook Your Calendar

There’s no need to drive yourself crazy trying to attend every dinner party and cookie exchange you’re invited to. Decide which events are most important to you and plan to see everyone else in January when your calendar is more open. Don’t choose obligations over your own sanity.

Maintain Healthy Habits

With all the shopping, baking and celebrating, it’s easy to get out of your usual healthy routine. But those healthy habits are important for preventing illness and fighting stress. Take a daily walk. Eat your fruits and vegetables. Get enough sleep. And follow the tips in this list to stay as stress-free as possible.

Spend Smarter

Exchanging presents during the holidays doesn’t have to mean blowing your budget for the year. If you have a large family, suggest a pollyana or white elephant gift exchange so everyone only has to buy for one person. You’ll have a much happier New Year if you don’t start it off in debt.

Take Time for Yourself

The holidays often include a long to-do list that doesn’t seem to disappear until January 2. As busy as you may be, take at least 15 minutes each day to decompress. Ignore your phone, turn on some music and empty your mind. Afterwards you’ll be recharged and ready to tackle the next project on your list.

Keep It Simple

Unreasonable expectations can make the holidays fall flat. Instead of trying to make everything perfect, take time to enjoy the little things. Keep holiday decorations simple and make one batch of cookies instead of the usual six. You’ll likely find more joy when you do less rather than more.

Make it Your Holiday

The holidays aren’t just about pleasing everyone else – you should enjoy them, too. Whatever your favorite tradition may be, whether it’s looking at holiday light displays, watching a classic holiday film or drinking hot cocoa by the fire, make time to enjoy it this holiday season. You deserve it!


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Date Last Reviewed: October 16, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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