The holiday season during the month of December is a fun filled time but can also be a stessful one for many. In an effort to put together that perfect holiday and faced with the pressures of busy schedules, parties, cleaning, shopping, and baking it’s no wonder that many people struggle with depression and elevated levels of stress during this time. Here are a few steps you can take to de-stress and have a happier, healthier holiday season.
*Learn to recognize your triggers be it relationships, financial stress, or just plain physical demands.
*Be realistic about your expectations. You don’t have to attend every single party, spend enormous amounts of money on gifts, or bake continuously to have a great holiday.
*Stick to a budget. Homemade gifts, coupons that offer gifts of time (like offering to babysit for someone for a few hours after the holidays), or family gift exchanges are all good ways to save that extra dime.
*Plan ahead and enlist help! Make out those lists and check them twice. Rally the troops into helping you with all that extra baking and cleaning. Even small children can help set the table or decorate the tree.
*Take a breather. Take 20 minutes to unwind when you need a break from the chaos. Grab a cup of hot chocolate, listen to music, or watch the christmas lights in silence to relax each night.
*Learn to say NO. It’s not a dirty word and it’s OK to just not have the time or energy to commit yourself to everything. People will understand and if you say yes to something that makes you feel stressed out then you risk walking away feeling resentful or upset.
* Try to keep it healthy. Don’t overindulge to the extreme on goodies and remember to get enough sleep!
* It’s ok to be sad during the holidays. If you’ve lost a loved one or can’t spend time with family during the holiday then acknowledge that your sad or blue. Make new traditions to remember lost loved ones, donate to a charity in their honor. Reach out to friends, find new ways to connect with family through photo’s, video, phone contact, or email, Volunteer within your community. You would be surprised how much helping someone else can lift your spirits.

Give the gift of health and safety to yourself and others by following these holiday tips offered on the CDC website.
1.Wash hands often to keep yourself from spreading germs and getting sick.
2.Bundle up to stay dry and warm.
3.Manage stress. Don’t over-commit yourself and prevent holiday anxiety and pressure.
4.Don’t drink and drive or let others drink and drive.
5.Be smoke-free. Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke.
6.Fasten seat belts while driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Always buckle your child in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt according to his/her height, weight, and age.
7.Get exams and screenings. Ask what exams you need and when to get them.
8.Get your vaccinations, which help prevent diseases and save lives.
9.Monitor the children. Keep potentially dangerous toys, food, drinks, household items, and other objects out of kids’ reach. Make sure toys are used properly.
10.Practice fire safety. Most residential fires occur during the winter months, so be careful to never leave fireplaces, space heaters, stoves, or candles unattended. Have an emergency plan and practice it regularly.
11.Prepare food safely. Remember these simple steps: wash hands and surfaces often, avoid cross-contamination, cook foods to proper temperatures, and refrigerate promptly.
12.Eat healthy, and get moving. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Limit your portion sizes and foods high in fat and sugar. Be active for at least 2½ hours a week and help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day.