The holidays can be a joyous time, but they can also be stressful. Agatha Parks-Savage, EdD, RN, Assistant Dean of Graduate Medical Education and Associate Professor of Family and Community Medicine, offers these words of advice.

Out with old and in with the new

Who says you must continue holiday traditions that don’t work for you? Many people have careers that take them away from the family during the holidays — for example, medical professionals, firefighters, police and military personnel. Do what works for your family. If it means creating your holidays off-schedule from the rest of the world, do it!

Prioritize the in-box

Do you have too much coming at you? Try this neat technique to help you sort through those demands. Start with a list and make four columns. Column “A” are things you must do before the end of the day. Column “B” are things that need to be done in a few days. Column “C” needs to be taken care of by end of the week. Column “D” are those things that can wait for after the holidays.

Holiday blues and foster-friends

If you have lost someone close to you, are displaced from family and friends and/or the meaning of the holidays is no longer the rose-colored memories you recall, the season of joy is sometimes the season of loneliness, sadness and heartache. If you have the holiday blues, know it’s OK to feel the way you do. On the other hand, if you know someone who has the holiday blues and lacks a support system, consider offering him or her the opportunity to take part in your events. I call this being a “foster-friend.”   

Less, really, is best.

There’s always a lot to do and many places to be, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. Meaningful time with those you care about outweighs making eight side dishes and five homemade pies. Don’t get me wrong, the bubbling casseroles and fragrance of apple spice in the air is intoxicating to the senses, but you don’t have to overdo it.

If you’re still having a hard time despite these tips, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help from a family member or medical professional.