The holiday season is upon us. While this means the beginning of Christmas films and festive gatherings, for many, it’s the onset of one of the most stressful periods of the year. Though it's difficult to have a completely stress-free season, here's what the experts advise to keep holiday stress at bay.

1. Be Realistic

The holidays are an exciting time of the year, and it's understandable when people expect too much. However, Dr. Mary Ann Mercer, psychologist and co-founder of www.PositiveLifeAnswers.com, stressed that it's important for us to remain realistic about both our expectations and capacities.

“You can only do so much. Let others know if you need a hand,” explained Mercer in an email to Medical Daily. “Don't play superman or superwoman.”

In addition, Mercer stressed the need to be realistic with your holiday expectations, and not spend so much time trying to recreate memories of the past.

“Be aware that memories of the past are usually distorted or selected on a few specific memories and may be misleading,” explained Mercer.

Read: The Effects Of Stress On Your Entire Body, As Told By This Unique Animation

2. Go Easy On The Food And Drink

It’s normal to overindulge over the holidays, but an important part of keeping sane throughout the season is to try and limit yourself. In addition to attending parties, people often cope with holiday stress by drinking and eating too much at home. Unfortunately, Mercer explained this can be a double-edged sword, and lead to even more unpleasant feelings. What’s more, stress can also take a toll on your immune system. It’s also important to eat well and limit drinking as a way to keep up your immune system during this especially taxing time period.

3. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a tested way to improve mental health, and experts suggest it can be especially useful during the holiday season. For example, Joy Rains, Author of Meditation Illuminated: Simple Ways to Manage Your Busy Mind, told Medical Daily that mindfulness can help you refocus and prevent you from getting too caught up with regrets about past holidays or worries about the future.

Rains suggested activities such as baking or lighting candles to help you gain a better sense of the present, and escape the holiday rush.

4. Exercise

Though exercise is most likely the last thing you’d like to do, especially during the busy holiday season, experts agree it can be an extremely useful way to ward off stress. In fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, just five minutes of aerobic exercise can be enough to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.

5. Treat Yourself

Although it may sound cliche, treating yourself and cutting yourself some slack is a very effective stress-coping mechanism. During the holidays, we often spend so much time focused on others that we let our own personal needs go. This can unknowingly lead to even more stress.

“You must make time for yourself,” Dr. Josh Klawpow, Clinical Health Psychologist and Stress Expert told Medical Daily in a recent email. “Being sick and stressed will not make the season any brighter.”

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