12/11/2014 05:37 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Avoid the Holiday Crazy


Can you feel it? The holiday rush? The clock ticking away the minutes left to shop, wrap, send cards, buy groceries, finish up work projects, coordinate with relatives, prep for travel, etc., etc? Even if you don't celebrate the winter holidays, the idea of starting a new year can be stressful. Here are five ways to end the year with your sanity intact.

1. Find outlets for stress
Even if your family is more Cleaver than Pritchett, chances are there's going to be some stress this month. Find outlets other than the bourbon balls when disagreements or flight delays throw a wrench in the holiday plans. Never underestimate the power of pausing for a deep breath. Whether you're on hold with customer service, looking for a parking spot, or getting into a "discussion" over who makes better stuffing, simply stopping and breathing before reacting can be the difference between happy memories and a high blood pressure fueled holiday you'd rather forget.

2. Lean on Mother Nature
Winter loves to put on a show, so take a minute to watch it. One of the best ways to counteract stress is to be still and quiet with nature. Simply going outside can change your energy. When the relatives arrive go for a long walk -- either together or by yourself, depending on the level of family drama.

3. Remember to move
Exercise is your friend this holiday season. Maybe even your best friend. There's no better solution to the added stress of holiday organizing -- let alone the added calorie intake of holiday reveling -- than exercise. Don't let weather get in your way. Hit the gym or take in a group fitness class. Chances are you'll spend some time in the mall this month, so you might as well make it a workout by walking a few laps before shopping. Physical activity will help organize your mind, release anxiety and let the endorphins do their work to make you feel clearer, calmer and happier.

4. Appreciate
No matter how healthy our lifestyle we do only have a limited number of holidays to spend with our family and friends. It should be a celebration, no matter how imperfect the reality turns out to be. Undercooked food? Traffic jams? Having to work? Relatives who don't get along? Meaningless when viewed in light of how lucky we are to have people with whom we share history, traditions and love.

5. Give back
A great way to close out one year and prepare for the next is to give back. There are many ways to give. Holiday toy drives, donations to food banks, visiting a nursing home, making homemade cards, donating money, and serving meals at a shelter are great ways to practice gratitude. See if you can get your friends and family to go together. Doing something for others can make your holiday experience especially meaningful -- and put that fight over stuffing into perspective.

I wish you and your family the happiest of holidays and a healthy, fulfilling new year!

How do you avoid the holiday crazy? Share your tips!

Judi Sheppard Missett, who turned her love of jazz dance into a worldwide dance exercise phenomenon, founded the Jazzercise dance fitness program in 1969. The workout program, which offers a fusion of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, and cardio box movements, has positively affected millions of people worldwide. The international franchise business hosts a network of 7,800 instructors teaching more than 32,000 classes weekly in 32 countries. For more information, visit