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“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”… but stress tends to follow. Here are a few tips for limiting your stress during the holiday season and finding joy.

Take Time to Plan

The best way to have a joyful holiday season is to plan, plan some more, and then plan again. Stress during this season derives in large part from the limited amount of time to enjoy all of your favorite holiday traditions.

Before you break out the calendar and start allocating your time, prioritize the activities that are the most important to you: cookie making, holiday volunteering, and visiting certain family members and friends. This list will allow you to collect your thoughts and set realistic holiday expectations as you plan.

With your list in hand, schedule time on your calendar and get a realistic estimate of the free time you have left.

Practice Self-Care

Don’t forget about yourself this season! Your health and wellness is important as you race to complete your favorite holiday traditions before the New Year.

Remember, the holidays should not be an escape from your healthy diet. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and can leave you feeling fatigued. Remember to eat the good-for- you foods first before filling up on sweets and rich foods. Limit mindless eating and excessive snacking.

Your sleep is important to keep your immune system strong and feeling refreshed to take on each day. Remember to get plenty of sleep and do your best to stick to your bedtime routine.

Make sure to set aside time to be alone. Use the time to limit distractions and refresh. Focus on your breathing and allow your body to reset, reduce stress and recover. Alone time can be as simple as setting aside time to read a book, listening to soothing music, or going for a walk.

Keep it Simple

Do your best to keep things simple during this busy time. Stick to your traditions and do not overpromise to friends and family.

Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and family will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. Exhausting yourself with expectations and activities will take away from the fun of the season.

Do your best to simplify your holiday shopping. Reach out to family members for present recommendations in advance rather than spending hours trying to find the perfect gift.

If you typically bring a hostess gift, consider buying a thoughtful gift in bulk, such as wine, seasonal candles or chocolates, rather than trying to think of a new present for each individual.

On behalf of The Village of Gainesville, we wish you a wonderful, stress-free, holiday season full of joy.