It’s the holiday season again, and you want to enjoy it this year.

The holiday season brings with it fun, socializing, and excitement, but it also brings added responsibilities and pressure. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get lost in the pressure and to forget about the fun stuff. The busyness of this season cannot be rivaled by any other time of the year.

This is a tricky period for so many of us, and we don’t usually talk about it. For some, it may be their very first holiday without a loved one who has passed. For others, it’s a reminder that they don’t have the relationship with their family that they’d like to. And for others, it can be an endless effort to fight against depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues to not miss out on family time.

So how do you balance it all and enjoy the holidays? Here are 5 survival tips for the holidays to help you enjoy the season.

1. Say yes to better quality time.

Are you a people-pleaser? If so, saying yes has never been a problem for you. You say yes to all kinds of time commitments to help out friends and family members. You say yes because you want to spend time with the people you love and because you want them to know you love them.

The trouble with saying yes to everyone and every event is that sometimes you’re double-booking yourself and your family. Instead of enjoying where you are and the company you’re with, you end up setting timelines and checking the clock as you go from event to event.

This year, one of your must do survival tips for the holidays is to challenge yourself to only say yes to events and gatherings that will allow you to really spend time with those you love. Then you can spend more time talking to your niece who just started middle school and catching up with your cousin you only see once a year.

2. Make balance your goal this year.

There have been studies conducted on the affect helping others has on our happiness. Spending money on others or giving, for example, gives us a nice boost of happiness. So too does volunteering.

But there is too much of a good thing. When your giving and volunteering begins to take over your schedule, it can lead to burnout and exhaustion. The same can be said of gift-giving—spending more than you can spare on gifts will naturally lead to stress and potentially negative consequences for you and your family.

Balance is the key.

How can you volunteer in a more limited capacity this holiday season? Ask for donations to a cause you’re passionate about in lieu of a gift this year. Organise a secret Santa system within your circle of friends or extended family so everyone still gets a gift, but not everyone has to buy each person a gift?

Your loved ones love you too. While many are attached to the traditions and the “way we’ve always done it,” most are flexible and ready to show you a little love too by trying something new. So don’t be too intimidated to ask for a change that will bring more balance to the holiday season.

3. Prioritize self-care.

Self-care isn’t just about manicures and pedicures, although those are nice too. It’s more about recognizing what you need to take care of yourself and then taking action to do so. For many, it’s hard to know where to begin. First, know that self-care sounds luxurious, but it often isn’t. It’s work to look at your life and see where you’re suffering. And it takes more work to then figure out how to implement small changes to better honor how you’re feeling and try to improve the situation.

But there’s good news: The mere act of prioritizing self-care is self-care. Giving yourself time and space to think about these things will have an impact on your overall happiness.

So create those boundaries, make that appointment for a massage, get up 10 minutes early to read that novel you’ve been wanting to finish for months; self-care should be always part of your list of survival tips for the holidays. 

4. Let go.

Are you the one in the family who approaches the holidays as a series of traditions that must be upheld or else Christmas just won’t feel like Christmas?

Traditions are important to establish and carry on. They offer us a chance to bond and provide a sense of belonging. Many traditions we don’t even think about as traditions—such as putting up a tree or opening presents—connect us with our cultural history and our community. “Traditions are a wonderful way to anchor family members to each other, providing a sense of unity and belonging,” wrote Dr. Michele L. Brennan over at  PsychCentral.

Sometimes, however, it’s time to let go of a tradition when it’s no longer providing a sense of belonging or a chance to bond.

Families change and grow. It can be hard to know how to welcome a new brother-in-law, for example, especially if that person has a different view on the holidays or a different belief system. But the best way you can welcome them is to consider that person’s perspective about the holiday, and make an effort to let them know they belong.

A new tradition is okay. Letting go of an old tradition that doesn’t leave room for a new family member is also okay. Give yourself permission to adapt and change and know that replacing traditions and letting go of some won’t take away from the bond you already have with your family or your link to them, your culture, and your community.

5. Schedule a visit to the dentist.

That sounds counterintuitive. It’s the busiest time of the year. Why add to it?

Because you need a moment for yourself.

It’s a smart move: You’ll be using your end-of-year dental benefits before they expire when the calendar flips to January 1 and you’ll be creating time for yourself to sit and let someone else take care of you for a little bit. You’re also taking care of yourself in a practical way that will provide long-term oral and overall health benefits.

You’re also being proactive. By seeing the dental team here at Millennium Dental, you’re doing what you can to prevent a dental emergency during the holidays, so you can understand why we’ve included this in our list of survival tips for the holidays. A toothache should definitely not be on your calendar!

Happy holidays, everyone!

We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season. We’re here to care for your teeth, and we hope these tips will help you care for yourself this holiday season as well.