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6 Ways to keep stress from ruining the holidays

Publisher, editor-in-chief and author at Chicken Soup for the Soul.

The holiday madness is upon us. Are you feeling a little stressed out? Adding all that holiday prep to your already busy schedule may be putting you over the top.

So if you are engaging in extreme multitasking these days, here are a few tips I've picked up over all these years reading Chicken Soup for the Soul stories.

1. Remember to use your positive thinking

If you make a conscious effort to find the positives in your life, you really will feel better. Let's say that you have to park a quarter-mile away from the mall at the farthest end of the parking lot; just think of it as an opportunity to get 10 minutes of exercise that you wouldn't otherwise have managed to fit into your day.

2. Count your blessings

Gratitude and thankfulness are proven to make people healthier and more popular. Remember that the reason you have so much work to do is that there are so many people you love in your life. Now doesn't that make you feel better about buying all those gifts and preparing all that food?

3. Say "No!" Really, you can say no

If you don't want to bake five dozen cookies for next week's third-grade class party, say no. You can offer to make the cookies for the Easter party when your schedule is lighter, or provide the paper plates and napkins instead.

4. Don't strive for perfection

It doesn't have to be perfect. Do you actually remember whether the holiday gatherings you attended in past years involved paper plates or fine china? Plastic cups or wine glasses that had to be washed by hand? Gourmet food or takeout? You probably don't. What really matters is who is sitting around the table, not what you put on the table.

5. Take care of yourself every day

You may not have time for your normal routine. But if you can't exercise for an hour, squeeze in 15 minutes. Steal a few moments to sit and read a short story. Sit in the garage for an extra couple of minutes when you get home and let that song on the car radio finish playing.

6. Carve that to-do list into tiny pieces

Your list may look daunting, but if you break it into bite-size pieces, accomplishing a few little tasks each day, you'll get through it in no time. And while you're at it, why not delete a few items on that list, remembering that everything doesn't have to be perfect!

Release some stress and laugh a little with "Bad Tidings to You," a story from Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Matters.

Photo credit: Martin Lissmyr/Flickr
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