Have a wonderful holiday season this year, where you can thrive, not just survive. These tips will help you reduce stress, relax, and breeze through the holiday season.

Keep your Holiday Season Expectations Reasonable – The most important contributors to a happy, stress-less holiday season are the expectations you create in your own mind about the holidays. You can’t make them perfect – people get sick, recipes don’t always turn out as expected and family members don’t always get along. You don’t have to have the perfect party, perfectly behaved children, or the most beautifully decorated home. Give yourself a break, and you’ll be a lot less stressed. ‘Tis the season for spending time with family and friends. Gather around the fire for hot, organic apple cider or low-fat hot chocolate, and share favorite holiday memories. Turn off the TV, and play games or sing Christmas carols. Make it simple. Keep a few moments each day for personal reflection.

Take Care of Yourself and Your Friends during the Holiday Season – Taking care of your physical, mental and emotional health may be the single most important aspect of creating stress-less holiday health and happiness. Be sure to eat a healthy diet that gives you most of your calories from organic vegetables, fruits, grains, and other delicious whole foods. If you eat better, you feel better. Don’t load up at the buffet table; instead, indulge in pleasant conversation. Keep portion sizes small; put your snacks on a small plate instead of a large one and limit your trips to the buffet. Wait 20 minutes before getting another plate of food from the buffet. For your friends, simplify. Set out bite-sized, healthy snacks such as raisins or nuts in brandy sniffers. That way your guests won’t be tempted to keep reaching for the snacks – they’ll have to pick up the glass and pour a few into their hand. Present food in various locations to encourage movement and mingling, as well as eating.

Exercise increases those stress-releasing endorphins – Share your workout time with your children and/or visiting relatives. From holiday shopping, to party planning, to the kids’ evening play rehearsal, you can still find some time and place to fit in physical activity. Take a walk around the neighborhood after dinner to look at holiday lights. Instead of sitting while watching winter play practice, march in place – keep your knees high (so, who’s looking?). Prioritize and consolidate your shopping list, and try speed shopping. Lace up those sneakers, and move! Before you know it, your shopping will be done.

Stay in Charge of your Commitments – You don’t have to hold a holiday party at your home, or attend every event just because you received an invitation – just as you don’t need to answer your cell phone just because it’s ringing. By making too many commitments and failing to keep them, you experience guilt and stress over your failure. Be selective, and strive to commit to those functions that bring peace, love, and happiness.

Above all, find time for laughter – one of the biggest and healthiest stress-busters of the season. Just ask Santa – Ho, Ho, Ho!