When you hear the word “holidays” does your stress level rise? Does the thought of holiday baking, shopping for presents, and preparing for guests make you feel like taking the holidays off? If so, you aren’t alone. The holidays are a challenging time of year for many people. Not only are we expected to take care of everyday tasks like working and caring for our families, but we also have to shop, entertain guests, and decorate our homes. No wonder we all feel a little overwhelmed at this over-the-top time of year!

Here are a few simple steps that will help you keep calm and minimize holiday madness.

1. Make Time for Exercise 
Try to take some breaks from your holiday commitments to exercise. A workout is a great way to relax and unwind, and a natural way to release endorphins, which will improve your mood. If the weather is nice, head outside for a run, or take the family for a hike, or a trip to the park. If a quick walk around the neighborhood is all you have time for, do it! The fresh air and exercise will calm you down and clear your mind.

2. Pamper Yourself
Whether it is a hot bubble bath, a trip to the salon for a pedicure, a mocha latte with friends, or a relaxing evening at home with a good book, you’ll find that the holidays feel less like a grind if you take some time out to pamper yourself. You deserve it!

3. Give Back
Sometimes we get so caught up in what needs to be done that we forget what’s most important during the holidays. Take time to give to others, whether that means donating time at your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter, or singing Christmas carols at your local nursing home. Bring the kids along, too. You are never too young to give back.

4. Let it Out
Sometimes a good cry or a scream behind a closed door is a wonderful way to get rid of pent up frustrations. If crying or yelling isn’t your thing (or there are too many little ears listening at home), try turning up the music and taking a hot shower. Sing along to your favorite songs. Consider adding a few drops of lavender essential oils to a shower diffuser to help you relax and unwind even more. Lavender is known for its relaxing properties.

What’s your favorite way to unwind during the holidays?