8 Tips To Stay Stress-Free This Holiday Season

Welcome to December! Did you brave Black Friday madness or try for an alternative? As wonderful as the holiday season can be, it often brings with it undue amounts of stress: crowded stores, visiting family and friends, holiday parties, and lots of cooking, eating, and socializing can leave you feeling more pooped than pumped. So we gathered some of our favorite tips for staying stress-free and truly enjoying this season, and we want to hear your strategies, too!

Learn to say no: You may want to attend every single holiday event you get invited to, but sometimes it's just not possible without completely wearing yourself out. Give yourself permission to say no to some functions. You'll be more present and able to enjoy yourself at the events you do attend.

Keep it within the community: We all know how crazy shopping malls and large chain stores can be around this time of year, so make an effort to go small and local instead. Support your friend's sewing habit, your local farmer's market, or a town gift fair. You'll find unique gems that will make perfect gifts, and you'll be supporting your community.

Forgo gifts: This might not be feasible or desirable for everyone, but some people say it's totally changed their experience of this season. Instead of spending time and money shopping for things on the weekend, why not plan specific holiday activities to do with your family? Go ice skating, have a movie marathon, do some baking. Spend time with people you love, and let that be your gift.

Breathe in the aroma: If you are shopping and headed into a busy store, get some stress-relieving aromatherapy lotion to keep in your bag. Soothing scents like lavender will remind you to be calm and breathe, even when the line is out the door. You could also put lavender oil on your shower wall (just a few drops will do). The heat of the water will release the scent and help you relax, and it's quicker than a bath!

Get physical: Do some stretching at the end of the day, massage your eyebrows, take a yoga class, go for a long walk or a bike ride if it's not too cold. Move around. This will especially help after you've had a particularly indulgent holiday dinner.

Put it in perspective: Not to say that the details don't matter, but remind yourself that no one is going to remember the outfit you wore or the table decorations as much as they'll remember how much fun they had.

Pay Attention: Keep a running list of interesting observations/thoughts about friends and family throughout the year (put a piece of paper on your fridge or a notebook in your purse). Use these observations to help you find thoughtful gifts for them.

Turn off the TV and turn on the music: Certain music can be very soothing, so step away from things that can be over-stimulating (like the computer and the TV) and relax at the end of the night with a glass or wine or a cup of tea and a favorite, mellow album of your choice.

Tell us your tips to staying stress-free this season below!

Image: Martha Stewart via Body + Soul