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Lindsay Dolak
Dec 10, 2015 @ 1:30 pm

With all of the decorating, entertaining, and celebration prep to be done around the holidays, the most wonderful time of the year often quickly becomes the most stressful. While it wouldn’t be the holidays without chaos, if you don’t stop and take a minute to chill, you’ll be looking at a burnout worse than Santa’s on December 26th. But we’re here to help. We asked Holly Phillips, M.D., CBS on-air medical correspondent and author of The Exhaustion Breakthrough ($19, amazon.com), for tips on how to keep the zen during the hectic holiday season. Scroll down for four ideas to have you saying “aaah...” not “aaah!!!!”

If Your Stress Level Is Low: Crank the Tunes
If you only need to quell minor last-minute anxieties, turn up the radio. “Listening to music triggers the release of feel good chemicals in the brain, like oxytocin, which lowers stress and improves your mood,” says Phillips.

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If Your Stress Level Is Just Starting to Creep Up: Make a “To-Don’t” List
When your holiday planning takes multiple notebooks, Phillips suggests stop thinking about everything you need to do and start thinking about everything you don’t need to do. Review your To-Do list and ask yourself for each task: Does it have to be done by you? Could it be done in a simpler way? Does it have to be done at all. "Then, make a To Don’t list," says Phillips.

If Your Stress Level Is Keeping You Up at Night: Fit in a Workout
"The weight gain that we are typically gifted during the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s isn’t always due entirely to holiday food and drinks. Stress can play a major role, too. “Skipping exercise during the busy holidays may seem like a time-saving strategy, but it’s really the last thing that should go,” warns Phillips. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day improves your mood, lowers levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, and can stave off stress for up to 12 hours afterwards, she added. So go for the jog. Just do it.

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If Your Stress Level Is at Peak Crazy Level: Treat Yourself
Selflessness may reach a high around the holidays, but too much neglecting yourself for the sake of others will eventually wear you out. Since no one wants to see you flip the dinner table, carving out some time for yourself will help you avoid feelings of resentment. Get a festive manicure or book a quick massage to keep you rejuvenated and in high spirits. Can’t find time to escape the house? Apps like Priv and Zeel bring quick beauty treatments and massages directly to you. (And right now, Zeel is offering InStyle readers $25 off a first massage with the code INSTYLE25.)

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