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SmartRain fireplaceIt may be the most wonderful time of the year, but you’re feeling the strain. Experts say the cold winter weather, less sunlight, traffic, holiday gift-giving, hectic holiday schedules, unrealistic expectations and (whew!) trying to please everyone can be stressful. Add a global pandemic to the mix, and you have even more pressure. Try these tips for managing the stress that comes with such a busy season.

Exercise regularly. You may feel more like hibernating, but daily activity is going to help you feel much better. While hitting the gym can be a great way to stay active, make an effort to spend time outdoors in the winter months. The natural light from a daily walk, playing in the snow or eating lunch on a park bench can dramatically help elevate your mood.

Get more sleep. Getting enough shut-eye is vital. If you’re like most people, though, you get less sleep around the uber-hectic holidays. There’s no doubt about it, the holidays are busy. But too little sleep can make you feel crabby and could make you more prone to colds and the flu. Some studies also have linked too little sleep with weight gain. Making the time for adequate sleep also can do wonders for your health and mood. Make sleep a priority, even if it means scaling back on some of your commitments.

Go easy on yourself. Your holiday dinner with your family didn’t go so well? Did you eat one too many cookies? Your mother didn’t like the gift you picked out for her? Relax. Remember that things are bound to go wrong during the holidays. They even made a movie about it — National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.