December is advertised as the happiest time of the year – people singing, sharing gifts, and reconnecting with family and loved ones. If we erase the façade, December can be the most stressful time of the year. If you feel like you can relate to the latter, we want to share a few tips to reducing stress and increasing self-satisfaction during this holiday season.

Take care of yourself physically

Holiday months often mean the pressure of losing weight for your summer bod has been replaced with the plate of sugary treats that frequents your office. The problem is that high intakes of sugar can poorly affect your mental and physical health. Depression and anxiety symptoms have been shown to increase when diets consist of high amounts of sugar. If you are already feeling stressed during the holiday season, your body will thank you if you reduce sugar.

You can say “No.”

Are the plentiful social events tiring you out? Are your kids asking for the biggest and best presents? Does your family want you to partake in a holiday tradition that sounds like a downer? Saying “no” can be the best solution to finding a sense of relief. If you don’t want to decline something outright, find an alternative option to compromise on. Try turning down the invitation to the family get-together that always ends poorly by saying, “I’m sorry, Mom. I don’t want to attend this event because it is usually not enjoyable for me. Can we have dinner together instead?”

Find times to enjoy yourself

Of course there’s no reason you need to enjoy the holiday season, but if you find yourself feeling like a constant Scrooge, let yourself relax a bit. Do you know the best way to get yourself out of a bad mood is to smile? The simple act of smiling releases hormones in your brain that makes yourself truly happier than you were. In a similar sense, try approaching the event you are dreading with a smile and the thought that it will go well. If it works: Great! If it does not work: You know that you tried and you can confidently avoid it next time.