Oh, the holidays. Ready or not, here they come!

There is an unspoken expectation of happiness that surrounds us this time of year. Sometimes we place this expectation upon ourselves, and at others we feel pressure from our local culture or through the media. We are all apparently required to be joyful during the holiday season: attending parties, celebrations, and social gatherings. For many, the holidays are indeed a happy, fulfilling season. But for others, this time of year is strenuous and tedious at best.

The holidays are typically a time for recalling our past, both the good and the bad. Hurtful memories and broken relationships tend to surface in our minds. Our mood is altered day to day by normal interactions and atypical schedule changes. Most of us exert a subconscious effort to balance our mood and return to a level of healthy functioning when faced with daily anomalies. The holiday season, in addition to the daily stressors of life, can simply overwhelm our internal effort to stay balanced. Under this stress, people often behave in ways that are out of the ordinary. Recognizing this internal struggle in yourself and in your loved ones can help you enjoy this season with compassion and healthy expectations.

We want to help you navigate this season, so we’d thought we’d share 10 helpful hints to keep in mind as you prepare for the holidays!

1. Create realistic expectations for the holidays.

2. Set realistic goals for yourself.

3. Pace yourself. Create a timeframe for projects and events (i.e. putting up decorations or parties).

4. Make a list and prioritize the important activities. This can help make holiday tasks more manageable by de-cluttering and reducing feelings of being overwhelmed.

5. Live in and enjoy the present.

6. Be careful with alcohol intake. Excessive drinking will only increase feelings of depression; after all, it is a depressant.

7. Spend time with supportive and caring people.

8. Make time for yourself!

9. Delegate tasks when needed and let others share responsibilities with you.

10. Remember: it’s ok to say “no.” You can’t attend every party and cook every meal. Saying “no” to some things can help you say “yes” to the things that matter.