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    Plan Ahead to Prevent Holiday Stress


    Does holiday stress suck the joy out of what should be the most fun and festive time of the year?



    Here are a few tips to update your routine to make your mental and physical health the priority.


    This year, try these strategies for a holiday list that promotes health and joy:


    • Prioritize your time.  Making a to-do list is often touted as a way to gain control over stress. But, a holiday task list that runs over with should-dos may only set you up for an anxiety-filled season.
    • Make new traditions! Scratch out the holiday rituals you can live without. Think about what stressed you out last holiday season. For instance, if you dislike baking, skip the cookies this year. If throwing your annual party is more stressful than fun, skip it.


     If it’s not the holiday without cookies, invite a couple of close friends over for a casual baking date or a cookie exchange. A friendly, low-stakes, get-together can provide a calm oasis on a hectic day.



    For a must-have holiday party, go strictly potluck. You can take on the main and outsource everything else to your invitees, including the set-up and clean-up!


    • It’s just not in the cards. Sending holiday cards can be time-consuming, so start addressing them now. You can even spread out the effort, by signing and hand-delivering to nearby friends and acquaintances at your leisure. Do 5-10 cards every morning as you're sipping on your coffee or tea. You will have a dedicated time to work on them and the smaller batches won't seem as overwhelming.


    Are you still sending cards to your former hairdresser’s cousin or that one guy you worked with 15 years ago? Audit and trim your recipient list. Take things even further by stripping things down to the handful of people who will be notably disappointed or, heaven forbid, feel slighted if they don’t receive your card.



    Tech savvy, or have someone nearby that can help? Skip the paper and post office altogether by recording a holiday message you can send via text or email.


    Services like Google Photos and Amazon Photos can make it relatively painless to share your video or holiday pic with all of your contacts.


    • Simplify the shopping. Create a present theme that cuts down on shopping trips. For example, buy everyone different books and get all your presents at the same bookstore. Whether or not you know what they're into, gift cards can be a great option.


    Many retailers, including your local Rite Aid, offer buy-online, curbside pick-up this can let you fill your basket, skip the line, and save valuable time.


    • Keep moving. Amid all the holiday hustle and bustle, make time for a brisk walk, stretching, or another simple exercise.  Staying physically active is one of the best stress-busters available.
    • Ask for a hand! Don’t be reluctant to ask family members for help. Have them cook, decorate, or wrap gifts for you. Sharing the load can also be a great way to connect with busy acquaintances who won’t be available later in the season.



    Love turkey, but hate the process and are willing to make some extra room in your fridge? You can drastically cut down your cook time AND avoid dry breast meat by spatchcocking (butterflying) your bird.



    Sure you lose the classic turkey profile, but you’ll also lose a lot of the hassle.


    Try this recipe for butterflied and dry-brined roast turkey from the Food Network.


    “The Different Kinds of Stress.”American Psychological Association. www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-kinds.aspx.


    “Exercise Fuels the Brain’s Stress Buffers.” American Psychological Association. www.apa.org/helpcenter/exercise-stress.aspx.


    “Holiday Health and Safety Tips.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdc.gov/family/holiday/.


    “Making the Most of the Holiday Season.” American Psychological Association. www.apa.org/helpcenter/holiday-season.aspx.


    “Take Some of the Stress Out of the Holidays.” American Diabetes Association. www.diabetes.org/mfa-recipes/tips/2012-12/taking-some-of-the-stress-out.html.