Find the perfect gifts! Plan family time! Clean the house! Cook for a dozen people! With so much going on, it’s hard not to get overwhelmed during the holiday season. How are you supposed to find time for yourself amidst all the chaos?

Here are some tips for finding inspiration and clarity during even the most hectic parts of your holiday season.

1. Stick to a Familiar Routine

The holidays bring a lot of changes in routine, and even positive changes can lead to stress. To minimize stress this winter, make an effort to keep your daily routine familiar. Try to eat, sleep and exercise at the same times you would the rest of the year to add some much-needed stability to this otherwise-hectic season.

2. Break Big Tasks Into Small Pieces

Do you ever get so overwhelmed that you don’t even know where to start? This is a common occurrence during the winter holidays. If your to-do list is too daunting to even think about, try breaking big tasks into small steps.

Seeing “shop for gifts” on your to-do list can leave you feeling panicky, but it becomes more manageable when you break it into small pieces like “buy socks for my spouse” and “order Pokémon cards for the kids.” Crossing each step off your to-do list along the way can make your progress more tangible and transform your anxiety into a sense of accomplishment.

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3. Get Out of the House

With all the cooking, cleaning and decorating, your house can start to feel like a prison during this time of year. If you feel suffocated, why not plan your own mini-vacation in your town or city? Go for a family drive to check out the festive decorations around town, meet up with friends for some shopping or take yourself on a solitary dinner date to get away from the chaos at home.

4. Create New Traditions

Do you have any holiday traditions that have outstayed their welcome? No one says they have to stick around! If your traditions are causing you nothing but stress, it’s time to come up with something healthier, happier and less expensive.

Are you worried about how the kids will react to the change? Don’t be! Kids are more flexible than you might expect. One of my fondest childhood memories is of the year my mom enacted a homemade-gifts-only rule. Almost two decades later, we still prioritize handmade gifts in my family, and it’s made our holidays infinitely more fun, sentimental and affordable.

5. Don’t be Afraid to Get Silly

Humor is the best remedy for perfectionism. If you find yourself obsessing over tiny details as the holidays approach, try lightening things up with some good old-fashioned silliness.

Wrap gifts in birthday paper or duct tape, or send your family and friends on ridiculous scavenger hunts to find their gifts. Get creative with your decorations. Write and perform parodies of Christmas songs as a family. There are endless ways to take the pressure out of the holiday season and have a little fun.

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6. Keep a Journal

It can be hard to keep track of your thoughts during this busy season. Journaling is a great way to organize your thoughts and vent your feelings. There are lots of ways to keep a journal, from jotting down your thoughts throughout the day to writing from prompts. Just choose whatever style suits your needs and start writing!

7. Take Time for Yourself

Being surrounded by people can get exhausting after a while. If you find yourself growing irritable during this hectic season, you may just need some time alone.

Do what you need to do to recharge your batteries—read, draw, take a long bath or put your headphones in and go for a walk. After a brief respite, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to deal with your family again.

8. Remember What You Love About the Holidays

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in trying to make the holidays perfect that we forget to enjoy ourselves. When you’re feeling discouraged, take a step back and write down 10 things you’re grateful for. After all, this is the season of joy and giving. There’s a lot to be grateful for if you just take the time to remember.

With a little gratitude, a sense of humor and some much-needed self-care, you can transform the most hectic holiday into the joyful occasion it was meant to be!

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