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Keeping it chill this holiday

The holidays are awesome. Well, except for the feeling that your to-do list is infinite, your time is not your own, and you may still be seated at the kids table in your 30s. Come to think of it, sometimes "awesomely stressful" is more like it.                

Try some of these approaches to lowering the heat on yourself. 

Give the gift of time (when you'll have more of it). The pressure to find the perfect gift—and pay for it—can be pretty great. Before you write us off as being corny, think about it:

  • Making time for lunch, a movie or help fixing something around the house may be the best gift ever for aging (or any) parents.
  • The kids on your list would love an afternoon of board games, sledding or football.
  • Get your good friends to splurge on an event, class or restaurant you can all go to together. Who wouldn't love to learn taekwondo with their besties?

Plus, you can plan for a date in January or February, when things have settled down. 

Embrace the list. For shopping, gifts, tasks, events—everything. This may sound like a no-brainer, but it makes great sense in December. Mapping responsibilities out in advance helps avoid the last-minute crunch (when everything's even more crowded) and keeps you from traveling back and forth over the same roads day after day.

Call in the troops. Everyone you know is in the same time-starved boat. So think about what you can do assembly-line style. Call for a cookie swap, so you can bake one kind of treat instead of 6. Make extra dinner for a neighbor and let them reciprocate next week. Invite folks over to decorate—if they'll be traveling they may not have a chance to trim their own homes. 

Keep social media in perspective. Nobody posts photos of their upside-down home, family arguments or weekends in front of the television on Facebook. But we all have them. Don't let the appearance of other people's selfie-ready lifestyles make you think yours comes up short. It's fiction. If social media is bringing you down, take some time off. Let folks think you're too busy being fabulous to post.

Just say no. Nobody needs to know why you aren't going to make it to yet another brunch. Or where you'll be instead of a fun-filled family event. "I'm sorry—I can't make it," should suffice. If they keep asking, shrug your shoulders, tell them it's a secret and change the subject. Say no to a few things and you may have more time to say yes to yourself.

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