Holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. At least that’s what some people say. For others, not so much.

We’re “supposed” to feel appreciation during the holidays. But between buying presents, cooking and dealing with family, sometimes all we want to do is simply make it through the season.

To avoid holiday anxiety this year, try focusing on the following tips to find some peace amidst the chaos.

Prepare Early

Whether you’re putting together a Thanksgiving gathering or prepping for gift-giving, don’t wait until the last minute. Procrastination may provide you with some relief at the moment, but the stress will creep up on you.

Rather than putting tasks off until the last minute, start your preparations now.

  • If you see something in the store that would be perfect for so-and-so, go ahead and buy it now. That’s one person you won’t have to shop for later.
  • See a recipe in a magazine or online that you want to try? Clip out or take a screenshot of the recipe and buy the items when you go grocery shopping this week. Your holiday meals will feel like they’re coming together on their own.
  • Going somewhere? Book your tickets now. They’ll only get more expensive as the holidays approach.
  • Create your holiday cards in September or October. Yes, it may be 90 degrees and no one will want to put on a sweater. But, hey, they can handle a few moments of discomfort to save you from stress down the road.
Host a Productive Party

Holding a get-together during the holidays can be particularly daunting when there’s already so much to do. Rather than the typical chit-chat gatherings, make yours productive by doing something that would normally stress you out, such as:

  • Baking cookies
  • Wrapping presents
  • Making holiday cards
  • Sharing recipes

You’ll cross something off of your to-do list and relax and enjoy yourself in the process. Plus, your friends will appreciate you because they’re as stressed as you are and this will help them get something finished.

Be Present

We’re talking about presence, not presents. During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s essential to make time for yourself. Preparing in advance will allow you to have more time. But, even if you don’t prepare early, there are many tips to help you feel present.

  • Simply inhale and exhale to the count of ten. One for the inhale, two for the exhale, etc. Do this three or four times in a row and then get back to what you were doing. Try this breathing exercise several times throughout the day. It literally takes about a minute, but can make a world of difference. Why does this work? Simple: You can only breathe in the present moment.
  • There are countless meditation apps available. Like simple breathing exercises, meditation brings you into the present moment, allowing you to decompress. Find an app that works well for you and set aside a few minutes each day for your meditation.
  • Whether looking for something relaxing or a strenuous workout, you can find the perfect yoga practice online. Select a workout length that fits your schedule and try doing it every day.
Take Care of Yourself

All of us tend to eat and drink too much during the holidays. If you do, the first thing to do is let yourself off the hook. Beating yourself up over it is unproductive.

Second, take time to exercise and eat healthy. You don’t have to do anything drastic. Doing yoga, as mentioned above, is the perfect place to start.

Taking walks with the family is another. Not only will you sneak in some exercise for everyone, it’s also a great way to connect. Suggest you all go on a walk to check out the neighbors’ holiday lights – or to simply make room for dessert after a big meal.

You can also avoid overeating holiday foods, by keeping Ekoa bars at home, in your bag, and in your car. When the first pang of hunger strikes, reach for an Ekoa bar instead of another piece of pumpkin pie. You’ll feel like you’re indulging – and you will be – but in a much healthier way.

With a little prep and a little self-care, the holidays really can be the most wonderful time of the year.