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Airman Adrianna Barelas, 4th Space Operations Squadron system administrator, displays her Grinch side for the holiday season at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., Dec. 1, 2017. Many things can cause stress during the holidays, including travel, financial strain, and the expectations of friends and family.

The holiday season can be intensive and exhausting. The season can be an overwhelming and demanding experience, from never-ending activities, shopping, and entertaining others to family obligations. There are some healthy coping strategies that you can implement to effectively manage the stress and enjoy this season.

1. Take time for yourself – Make some time for yourself, self-care is important. Spending time alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do.

2. Get plenty of sleep – try to go to bed at a specific time each night. Being well rested can improve your mood.

3. Just say “no” – Overscheduling and “spreading yourself too thin” can lead to emotional breakdowns. Learn how to say no and set boundaries.

4. Exercise regularly – A quick 20-minute walk or workout will get your heart rate up and release mood boosting chemical in your body.

5. Create meaningful rituals and traditions – If your family’s traditions are not working for you or if you feel that there is something missing – create your own rituals and traditions. As we change and grow, holiday traditions and rituals change as well. Be open to new traditions.

6. Plan ahead – Schedule time for shopping, baking, visiting friends or family and other activities. This will prevent from last minute crisis.

7. Be mindful of the here and now – Living in the now takes away the stress you might have experienced in the past. Enjoy the holiday spirit by being present “here and now,” enjoy the scents, taste the food and take time to see the decorations the holiday season brings.

Remember the real meaning of the holidays is to be thankful for what you had, what you have now and what the future will bring. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find joy and peace during the holidays.

The Fort Belvoir Employee Assistance Program Coordinator is available by calling 703-805-5588.