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12 days of stress tips

Ready to start ringing in the holidays? We're putting our own spin on the 12 days theme, however, if you observe Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, feel free to pick your top 8 or 7.

Day 1: Don't let them ruin dessert. Chances are, some well-meaning person will want to make a diabetic dessert just for you. That's sweet (although the dessert certainly won't be). Do an end-run around this looming disaster by offering to bring dessert, and then showing up with the real thing. It's the holidays.

Day 2. Make your own list and check it twice. Write down every gift, task and grocery item. What doesn't need to be there? Strike it off. If it's not on the list, skip it. This can also save cash, as you won't pick up extra gifts just because they're in front of you.   

Day 3: Clear the clutter. Before you pull out the bins of decorations, box up extra knickknacks and piles. Adding more to an overstuffed room can make it feel claustrophobic, but subtracting can open things up.

Day 4: Say no. Don't explain. Don't defend. Don't look for buy-in. If you can't do something, just say, "I'm sorry I'll have to miss it." and change the subject.

Day 5: Go for a B grade. Where does your inner perfectionist take over? Latkes for 40? Perfectly iced Santa cookies? Intricate placecards? If it gives you joy, then by golly, hand-loom your own ribbon. But if you're only doing something because people expect it, cut yourself some slack.

Day 6: Hit reset. If your holidays feel like the same story playing out year after year, shake things up. Throw out the old menu. Declare "no gifts" for anyone over a certain age. Schedule brunch instead of dinner (cut the bar bill and clean up while it's still light outside). The grumblers will come around.

Day 7: Seek togetherness. Loneliness can be amplified during the holidays, so call one good friend and catch a movie. Grab a coffee. Go skating. 

Day 8: Take a social break. Especially if you're feeling down. All you glimpse on Facebook is smiling, happy people. You don't see the kitchen meltdowns, overtired kids or the dog tearing up presents. Skip the highly buffed images until January.

Day 9: Wash the dishes. Uncle Harry getting loud? Someone certain that essential oils cure diabetes? Excuse yourself to clear the table, wash up the pans or play with the littles. Being up to your elbows in suds (or any other excuse to step away) is solid me-time in disguise.

Day 10: Have a zero-effort dinner party. Call a few people who you can be completely casual around. Have them come over in what they're already wearing, and cook whatever each of you was planning on making that night. Or order in. Pull out the board games or cards. No planning. Just a no-pressure evening with lots of well-deserved laughs.

Day 11: Do more of less. Individual cocktails and meticulously arranged lamb chops? Trade them for a punchbowl and a roast. A few piled-high platters can be just as impressive and satisfying as 20 individual sides. Give yourself a break and dig in.

Day 12: Walk it off. Just go. No direction. No destination. Look around, breathe deeply and give yourself time to collect your thoughts. It's good for your blood sugar and for your soul.

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