I used to stress every year around the holidays.  I still have lots of friends that stress out completely this time of year.  Always running, always behind, always complaining about something.  I have finally discovered (with my wife Lori's help), that if you just breathe, smile, and take a step back now and then, the holidays don't have to stress you out.  Watch some holiday movies, and you too can have a holly jolly Christmas with more "ho, ho, ho" and less "go, go, go,"! 

Top psychiatrist Dr. Anthony Pietropinto has a few more  simple tips for de-stressing the holiday:

  • Rent some Christmas DVDs -- Invite friends over or share a movie night with your family. Watching timeless classics like "White Christmas," "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street," help us relax and remember what Christmas is all about.
  • Trim down your shopping list -- You don't need to buy an excessive number of gifts. Make an agreement with family members to limit the exchange to one gift per person.
  • Cut back on your Christmas card list -- Drop folks you haven't seen or thought about in years. Send cards only to people who are really close to you.
  • Take a vacation day -- If you can manage it, take a day or two off from work so that you can relax and do your Christmas chores at a leisurely pace. If you're a homemaker, get someone to watch your kids for an afternoon.
  • Build on your past successes -- Think back on Christmases that went well and figure out what made them good -- then try to recapture that. Usually it's the family and friends around you, the good times you had -- not the presents you received.
  • Don't go crazy on the wrapping -- The kids are going to tear it off in seconds anyway. So use simple paper and labels -- or just labels and no wrapping at all.
  • Don't skip meals -- If you skip lunch or dinner on your way to shop, blood sugar levels will drop and make you feel even more tired and taxed. Eat a snack at your 4pm coffee break or a bowl of soup in the mall food court before you hit the stores.
  • Watch what you drink -- Even mild overindulgence can give you a next-day low, adding to your feelings of being overwhelmed. Then you can make the mistake of drinking too much coffee, which can make you feel jittery and disrupt your sleep.
  • Do what feels good -- Does chocolate pick you up? Have one. Such foods in small doses won't hurt and may even help by making you feel less stressed or deprived.
  • Get enough sleep -- Too many late night parties, Christmas concerts and wrapping and baking marathons will seriously deplete your ability to handle stress.
  • Read a favorite Christmas story -- Find a quiet corner, a cup of cocoa and favorite blanket and curl up and read the story you most loved as a child. Try "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Twas the Night Before Christmas."