THE BLOG
12/22/2014 01:20 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

7 Simple Strategies to Help You De-Stress From Christmas Overwhelm

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Did you catch yourself swearing at the driver who just snagged the parking spot you've been waiting patiently for?

Are your barking at the kids? Your honey? Your dog?

Do you feel like your head is about to explode because there's simply too much to do and not enough time in your day?

Are you completely overwhelmed trying to make everyone happy at Christmas?

Take a deep breath and slowly exhale. You are not alone.

The holidays can be an overwhelming and stressful time for many people. Between expectations, crowded shopping malls, and the pressure to please everyone at the same time, is it any wonder most of us, particularly women, are running on empty?

Pressing pause and easing up during this hectic time is vital to your sanity and your health. According to Simon A. Rego, PsyD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, "the connection between stress and illness is real."

Stress is linked to a long list of ailments that would make even the Grinch Who Stole Christmas take note. Heart disease, digestive flare-ups, insomnia, lung disease, immune disorder flare-ups, just to name a few.

In the days leading up to Christmas and New Year's, make sure your self-care routine is a priority.

Here are 7 Simple Strategies to Help You Reduce Christmas Stress and Overwhelm

1. Say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no. It's okay to decline the last party invitation you received. And I promise you, no one (and I mean no one) will die if you say no.

2. Don't forget to breathe. When you're stressed, notice your breath. Is it shallow? If it is, inhale from the tips of your toes to the top of your head and exhale slowly from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Inhale as if your whole body is inhaling. Exhale as if your whole body is exhaling. You can practice deep breathing anywhere. Standing in line, waiting at a red light, sitting down at your desk... anywhere. Deep belly breathing reduces stress and tension almost immediately.

Allow the calmness and stillness of your breath and the spaciousness inside your heart center to seep into every fiber and cell of your being. Raise the corners of your mouth to your ears.

3. Limit your alcohol consumption. If you drink wine, one super easy tip is to cut your wine with seltzer water and add berries. You still can enjoy your wine but you won't have a headache the next day. And you won't wake up feeling like you've been hit by a bus.

4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Your skin will love you and so will your waist line. This is one of the best and simplest acts of kindness you can show yourself.

5. Make time for you. If you have to, make an appointment with yourself every day for 15-30 minutes. Longer if you can. Trust me, when you make the time to take care of you, you'll find you have more to give to others. Don't let your internal gas take run empty.

6. Take one thing off your holiday to-do list. A few years ago I stopped sending out Christmas cards and I'm pretty sure no one noticed. By deleting this one to-do I reduced my stress ten-fold. What one thing can you scratch off your list?

7. Begin and end each day with your gratitude journal. If you don't have one, that's okay. Grab a few sheets of paper and staple them together. Index cards work great, too. Every morning jot down 3-5 things you're grateful for. Do the same before you go to bed. Inner happiness and joy begin with an attitude of Gratitude.

Remember to fill yourself up every day so that by Christmas morning you're not wiped out.

Now it's your turn. If you've got a tip that helps you stay centered, calm, and de-stressed, please leave a comment below!

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Peggy Nolan is a sacred bad-ass warrior, vanquisher of fear, slayer of doubt and she loves helping others move forward. She's a published author, yoga teacher, and second degree black belt. When she's not teaching or training, you'll find her chasing butterflies. Peggy lives in Derry, NH with her husband, Richard.

If you liked this article, you can download Peggy's free eBook, "30 Ways to Boost Your Positivity and Increase Your Happiness."