There's a moment when the December calendar is blissfully empty. And then it isn't. At a time when we're supposed to be enjoying friends and family, it's common to feel overwhelmed and over-scheduled, sapping the joy out of the season and leading to less healthy food choices as well as raised levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin, which are linked to chronic disease.
Be active. Exercise reduces stress hormones, so if you can schedule a full workout as "me" time, do. If not, find 10 minutes here and there, suggests Taylor. Walk with a buddy at work on your lunch break, and get outside to build a snowman with the kids—anything that gets you some physical activity, says Boldrick.
Stay above the fray. Spending time with family can come with high expectations and unhealthy tension. "If you come together out of obligation, rather than because you want to, resentment and anger is bound to come through," says Toronto family therapist Sara Dimerman. Find a way to spend a little less time with your clan, or figure out a different way to respond when triggered by a loved one.
Edit your party plan. It's OK to RSVP "no" to parties that you don't want to attend, and when it comes to hosting, don't feel pressured to pull off a big party. "Instead of planning the same elaborate dinner for 20, have a drop-in day event," says Dimerman.