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Health & Balance

12 Ways to Destress Amidst Holiday Madness

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Make friends with Frosty Maybe you haven't built a snowman since you were a kid, but making a miniature Frosty not only gives you an instant creative outlet, it provides enough pulse-quickening activity to make you feel good. "When you exercise, your body produces endorphins, which are the 'happy' chemicals in your brain," says Dr. Abramowitz. "You'll come back inside with a different mindset." Plus, that snow sentinel on your front walk will be a season-long reminder to loosen up and have fun before the holidays melt away.

10 Minutes

Focus on the vision Think about the three holiday traditions you love most, like lighting the Chanukah menorah or singing Christmas carols with your kids. Pencil those things in your calendar, and let go of the rest. "What stresses us out is that we don't take the time to say what we really want," says Linda Hedberg, a Minneapolis life coach who conducts workshops on making the holidays less stressful. "Women need to make plans based on their vision, and get rid of the stuff that doesn’t fall into that vision."

Speed-read Curling up with a good book can be the ultimate winter luxury, but if you don't have time for an extended tête-à-tête with a novel, try something short and sweet, like a few poems a day, or a couple of pages of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Better yet, sign up for DearReader.com, a service that e-mails you a daily excerpt of fiction, nonfiction, romance or other genre of your choice. You get to enjoy literary downtime without any pressure to read ahead.

Organize something It's not as crazy as it sounds, says Beverly Coggins, a professional organizer in Stow, Ohio, and author of the 1-2-3…Get Organized series. When life feels out of control, setting a silverware drawer in order or whipping the gift-wrap box into shape leaves you feeling like you’ve taken the reins again—and that can unload stress.

5 Minutes

Take a shortcut to joy Your regular schedule may have gone out the window when family dropped in, but that doesn't mean you have to abandon what you love. Just do a super-quick version of it. Turn your normal leisurely chat with your best friend into a quick morning check-in, or skip hanging out at Starbucks but grab a latte to go. "Figure out what gives you joy and commit to doing it," says Katrin Schumann, coauthor of Mothers Need Time-Outs, Too.

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