Handle Holiday Stress the Healthy Way

It's that time of year again: The holidays are fast approaching! For many of us, that means a lot of joy — and sometimes a lot of stress.

The holidays can be particularly stressful for many reasons. Our to-do list tends to grow longer, and emotions, both good and bad, can run high. And while some stress is OK, too much can be hard on our health. It can raise our blood pressure and our risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Get Stress Under Control

If you feel your stress level starting to skyrocket during the holidays, try these stress-busters for a healthier and merrier season.

Practice self-care. Carve out a few minutes every day to leave the hustle and bustle of the holidays behind. Read. Listen to music (it doesn't have to be holiday tunes). Take a relaxing bath. Enjoy a feel-good holiday movie.

Don't abandon healthy habits. It's fine to indulge in a few holiday treats, but stick to mainly eating healthier foods. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Work in a workout — exercise can help ease stress. And be sure to get enough sleep.

Budget your spending. Plan ahead based on what you can afford for gifts. It really is the thought that counts.

Manage your expectations. Holiday traditions evolve over time. Keep the ones you love, and ditch the ones that are no longer needed.

De-clutter your calendar. Give yourself and your family the gift of time to recover from a busy holiday schedule.

Seek help if you need it. Talking to a professional counselor — in person or virtually — can help you get a grip on your stresses and find solutions that work for you. This can be particularly helpful when grieving over the death of a loved one or dealing with difficult people and situations during the holidays.