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Health Matters: 5 ways to simplify your holiday season

From being easier on yourself to creating meaningful memories, try some of these easy ways to truly enjoy the warmth and beauty of the season.
A woman carries her purchases
With the temptation of so many deals dangling before us during the holiday season, it's easier than ever to spend beyond our means.Getty Images

If you’re feeling overwhelmed trying to create the “perfect” holiday, you’ve got plenty of company! There never seems to be enough time or money (or both) to carry out all of your plans. If this sounds like you, it’s time to simplify your holiday. This doesn’t mean becoming Scrooge, but instead picking and choosing traditions and activities that give you and your family meaning. Isn’t that what the holiday season is all about?

And that takes some thought to figure out. Try some of these easy ways to simplify your holiday, and truly enjoy the warmth and beauty of the season.

Make a realistic “to-do” list and stick with it:

Make a complete list of everything you’d like to do, then prioritize how you’re going to carry it out. When you can see your action plan, it’s easier to separate a “must do” from a “would be nice to do.” It takes a lot of pressure off!

Create meaningful memories:

If you’re struggling to prioritize, think about the meaning of an activity to you. Is it impactful? Does it create a memory? Ask yourself this question as you go through your list. And cross off items that don’t create a meaningful memory.

Be easier on yourself:

Give yourself permission to make some easy swaps of your time. Don’t compare yourself to others and what they’re doing. It’s perfectly okay to purchase cookies or cakes for a holiday event, or to order some prepared foods — rather than make everything from “scratch.” You need sleep more than you need to be awake at midnight baking cookies.

Learn to say “no” – and set limits:

It’s impossible to be all things to all people. And it’s important to learn to set limits on gifts, parties, travel – and all the other ways you spread yourself too thin. This is a tough one, but you’ll be better able to enjoy what really matters to you!

Limit social media:

Social media can be particularly intimidating this time of year. Want to know what others are doing? Pick up the phone and talk — you’ll get a much more realistic view of what your friends and family are dealing with (just like you). Use social media as an inspiration of what you’d like to include in your own holiday, not an expectation of what you need to do.

Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD is the NBC News Health Editor. Follow her on Twitter @drfernstrom.