The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year right? Not always. From too many commitments to family tension, the holidays can be a hard time to navigate. Be proactive and avoid feeling frazzled during this busy time of year.

Set your limits
It is OK to say no (repeat that as often as necessary). Overextending yourself can lead to unnecessary stress. Always saying yes can leave you feeling overwhelmed and resentful. Family, friends, and colleagues will understand if you can’t commit. If you must say yes, try to remove something else from your schedule to make time for the new commitment. Plan ahead, delegate tasks, and make lists to help keep you organized this holiday season.

Have realistic expectations
Be realistic about your time as well as your expectations of others. As time goes on, families tend to change and grow. Traditions and rituals often change as well. Keep in mind that the holidays do not need to always be the same in order to be perfect. If you usually have some sort of conflict when you get together with family or friends, try to prepare ahead of time for it. Avoid any hot button issues.

Remember the power of humor
Strive to keep your holiday interactions as lighthearted as possible. Have a sense of humor and use your time with family to reflect on what you love about them most. Even with the best of planning, something may go wrong. Try to find the humor in all situations. Humor is a great defense mechanism against chaos and anxiety.

Keep up with healthy habits
Make this non-negotiable. Falling out of your normal eating and exercise routine combined with indulging here and there can make you feel sluggish, guilty, and add to your stress. Take time to exercise daily, even if it is broken up throughout your day. Not only will you burn off stress, but it will help keep some time for yourself. To avoid having too much holiday cheer, have a healthy snack of fruits and vegetables before you leave home.

Make time to yourself
With holiday hustle and bustle, it is easy to forget to take time for yourself. Whenever possible schedule something fun that’s just for you. If you start to feel overwhelmed when with others, take a mental break. Take a few deep breaths or a short walk, and then rejoin the activity. Try to frequent short breaks without distractions, to clear your mind.

It will end
If you find yourself not enjoying the holiday season, keep in mind that this too shall pass. It is easy to get overwhelmed and exhausted from the constant interaction. Be sure to step back and take a look at the bigger picture. But also try to make the best of your holiday time with friends and family.

Reach out
If you happen to find yourself feeling lonely or isolated, seek out your community. There are a variety of ways to find a sense of community: places of worship, social events in your town, or even classes at your gym. Volunteering your time during the holidays is a great way to help others in need as well as lift your spirits and make new friends.

If despite all your best efforts you find you need someone neutral to discuss your persistent sad or anxious feelings, talk to a professional. Seek out your doctor or mental health professional to address your concerns. Students can call Student Counseling Services at (309) 438-3655 for help. Assistance for faculty and staff is available through the Employee Assistance Program at (866) 659-3848.

Take the challenge!
Earn 100 SEVEN points in the month of December and get a free drawstring backpack! Log wellness activities at Points=prizes=wellness!