THE BLOG
12/08/2014 11:06 am ET Updated Feb 07, 2015

3 Ways to Survive Holiday Stress

Comstock Images via Getty Images

Holidays are the best time of the year, filled with parties, celebrations, gifts, food, family, and friends.

Or are they?

For some, holidays can be one of the most stressful times of the year. Our schedule is filled with events and gatherings leaving us no free time. We rush around buying gifts, decorations, and food. We are constantly cleaning the house to have it ready for our guests. Some gatherings are not only filled with the stress of preparations and deadlines, but old family wounds and insecurities. At the end of the holiday season, we feel drained, tired, exhausted, and depleted.

Here are a few ways to make your holiday season work for you.

Choose Wisely -- When there are a plethora of parties to choose from, we can become overwhelmed and feel obligated to attend them all. This season, take the time to look at all the gatherings you are invited to and answer these questions:

• Will it be fun?
• Are there people I want to be around?
• Do I feel obligated to go?
• When I went last year, how did I feel afterward?

After reviewing each event, choose only those that will enliven your soul. Release the guilt of saying no to a friend or obligation, and instead rejoice in saying "yes" to you and what you need.

Experience Not Things -- Remember being a child and playing with the box the toy came in as much as the toy itself? Instead of feeling like you need to go broke buying gifts or rushing around town to purchase the perfect gift, instead find ways to actually experience the holidays with those you love. Think of all the time you spend at the stores and consider how you could use that time to be with others. Ten years from now, people may not remember the fancy soaps you purchased them, but they will probably remember the special day you spent together.

Drop Perfectionism -- The house does not need to be perfectly clean. The food does not need to be chef quality. Your decorations do not need to be made by Martha Stewart. Stop judging yourself and tying your self-worth to how well you execute the holidays. Those people who truly love us, love us just as we are. There is no need to be a Stepford Wife. Instead do as much as you are willing and spend the rest of the time enjoying your holiday.

Bonus Tip: Focus on Gratitude -- With a deluge of items to buy and perfectly happy families flooding the media, it is easy to see what we lack. Every morning make a list of those things that you do have. I love to start my list with "I am grateful for the ability to see, read, write, and walk." What are the small things often overlooked which actually bring you great joy and comfort? Focus on those things this holiday and notice how your mood improves.

Put yourself and your needs first this holiday season. Release the stress the holidays trigger and make a commitment to truly experience your holidays this year.