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Before you dive into a holiday celebration with family, don't forget to unwrap some tips to prepare yourself mentally.

Many Americans look forward to the joys of the holiday season. However, adults reported in a recent survey that they are more likely to find family responsibilities stressful than they have in the past. And the holiday season can bring an increased sense of family responsibility, not to mention additional feelings of stress.

So whether you’ll soon be celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or another wintertime holiday, take some time this month to prepare for the busy season ahead. It can help keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

Reduce Your Stress

Do as much as you can ahead of time, such as:

  • Purchase presents. Try to get an early start on wrapping them, too.
  • Make a plan. It should include events, parties, gifts needed, and cookies and other seasonal treats you plan to prepare, as well as family responsibilities.
  • Simplify tasks. For example, purchase food that is easy to prepare and combine errands into one trip.
  • Focus on the true meaning of your holiday. Chances are it’s more than giving or receiving expensive gifts.
  • Reduce your holiday card list. Or don’t do holiday cards at all this year, unless you absolutely love sending them.

Anticipate Grief

If you’ve lost a loved one, the holidays can seem even more stressful and lonely, especially if it’s your first year without him or her. Anticipate your feelings and prepare now to help ease your grief throughout the season. Try these tips:

  • Decide what holiday celebrations to attend. Skip the rest. Choose those where you are likely to feel cared for emotionally and compassionately.
  • Honor your loved one. Make a charitable donation in his or her name, light a candle, or cook your loved one’s favorite recipe.
  • Acknowledge your loss. Trying to pretend you’re not grieving will not make the holidays any easier to bear. Instead, take time to reminisce with family and friends about your holiday memories with your loved one.
  • Be kind to yourself. Realize there is no right or wrong way to grieve during the holidays.

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