The holiday season is a time to gather with loved ones to celebrate and connect, but it’s also a time of anxiety and stress for many. Most of us know the familiar feeling of pressure to get the right gifts, make the perfect meal, and attend every event.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! With foresight and intention, you can transform the holidays into a time of joy, gratitude, and connection rather than a flurry of stress, burnout, and loneliness. Use the following tips to cope with holiday stress and make this year your most joyous yet.

Prioritize Self Care
During a time of year when much of your focus is on giving to others, don’t forget to give to yourself, too. The most powerful gift is self-care in the form of good nutrition, movement, and sleep. Focus on whole foods and keep sugar consumption in check. Aim to fit in daily exercise, whether it’s a 30-minute walk in nature, a gym session, or another favorite activity. Make this time non-negotiable. Similarly, block out eight hours for sleep nightly and create an effective bedtime routine.

Rely On Herbal Allies
Herbs such as lemon balm, linden, passionflower, lavender, and milky oats can be wonderful for supporting the body during times of stress. Adaptogens are another great option for regulating the stress response. WishGarden Herbs has several formulas to help you cope with holiday stress including Deep Stress, Emotional Ally, Serious Relaxer, and Liquid Bliss.

Maintain a Daily Gratitude Practice
In addition to keeping the physical body functioning optimally, don’t forget to nurture your mind and spirit. Practicing mindfulness meditation or spending as few as 10 minutes per day writing in a gratitude journal can profoundly shift how you interpret any stressful events that may arise. Not only does gratitude reset your stress response by shifting you into a parasympathetic state, it reconnects you to what truly matters to you.

Plan Ahead
Feeling overwhelmed by the holidays often stems from having too much to do and not enough money or time. Prevent these feelings by taking time now to review your finances and create a realistic budget for the holidays. Seek out alternatives to traditional gift-giving, such as homemade gifts, upcycling, or creating an experience rather than purchasing an item.

You can approach your time similarly. Pull out a calendar and schedule events which are non-negotiable. Be realistic with what you can attend and accomplish. Evaluate what truly matters and what can go by the wayside. Discerning the vital tasks from the trivial ones helps you determine where your energy will be most effective.

Ask for Help
Remember that you don’t have to go it alone. Identify which tasks you can delegate and to whom. More than likely, the people in your life would be happy to support you. You just have to ask (nicely). Asking for help can also mean seeking out community if you’re in need of connection. Even when it feels hard to reach out, remember that others are there to support you.

The essence of the holidays is communing with loved ones and experiencing gratitude for our many blessings. Proactively managing holiday stress allows you to be fully present and enjoy this special time of year.

Writer Katie Gerber is a holistic health and nutrition coach serving clients locally in the front range as well as online. In 2014, she completed Aviva Romm’s Herbal Medicine for Women certification. After thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2014 and the Colorado Trail in 2016, Katie decided to use her botanical medicine and nutrition knowledge to help fellow wilderness lovers seeking more energy and better health. She transitioned from her career as a pastry chef, and enrolled in the Institute for Transformational Nutrition. She now uses her lifelong passion for holistic health with her background in the culinary arts to help people live healthier lives, in alignment with nature. Katie writes for several publications and speaks at local events. When she’s not writing and working with clients, you’ll most likely find her in the mountains, in the garden, or in the kitchen testing recipes. Find out more about Katie, her articles, and her adventures at her website.

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.