Holiday Stressors

Get tips for calming down during the hustle and bustle of the season

By By Melody Warnick

Your good cheer (and patience!) is disappearing faster than Santa's cookies. When you find yourself on the brink of losing it, try these tension tamers.

Stress Zone #1: You're barreling through throngs of mall shoppers on the hunt for a last-minute gift.

Quick Fix: Step up to the department store perfume counter, peruse the testers and dab on a lemony fragrance. According to researchers at Ohio State University, lemon scents instantly boost your mood.

Stress Zone #2: That massive pile of holiday cards needs to get mailed ASAP, but just the thought of it gives you writer's cramp.

Quick Fix: "Refocus on what's most important to you," says life coach Linda Hedberg. "If you're overwhelmed with dozens of cards to send out, ask yourself, Which are the 10 most important ones?" Send those and put the rest on the back burner. Or just send an e-card to everyone on your list. Bonus: It's eco-friendly!

Stress Zone #3: You're dragging your kids off to see The Nutcracker—it's a tradition!—but they're whining every step of the way.

Quick Fix: Make a switch. True, families thrive on traditions, but it's less about the event itself, which your kids may have outgrown, and more about time together. If your kids are complaining, drop expensive, high-stress rituals in favour of something simple and universally appealing, like a Christmas Eve chocolate-chip pancake feast.

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