The holidays should be all about enjoying some time with the people you love, so don’t let stress get you down.

As we approach December a lot of us start thinking about how we’re going to spend the holiday season. For many, it’s a time to be with family, for others, it’s a time to escape the city, for some of us it’s just a welcome break from work. How you spend Christmas can have a massive impact on your mental health. These are some of the ways that you can ensure you stay happy and well looked after this holiday season.

Cut the Christmas Spending

Does your gift buying habit always see you in the red come January? It needn’t do! Overspenders should consider making some of their Christmas gifts by hand. Not only is this a heartfelt way to show your family you care, but it’s also a serious money saver. Christmas hampers make beautiful gifts! Homemade chutney or jelly, chocolate truffles, perhaps a bottle of spiced spirits, they’re all easy things to make that will be appreciated far more than something store-bought. Spend an hour each week in the run-up to Christmas ticking off one of the cooking tasks and you could have half a dozen hampers ready in time for the big day.

If you aren’t gifted in the kitchen, then you can still save some money. Instead of buying gifts for your whole circle of friends, why not organize a Secret Santa? Set yourselves a $20 limit and buy something thoughtful and beautiful for one friend, instead of rushing around on Christmas eve throwing last-minute gifts into your basket. We’ve all got more than enough soap sets and scented candles to last us for the next decade.

Make Time For Yourself

The holidays can be a demanding time for all of us. There’s enormous pressure to see the family and be in a good mood all the time, all whilst eating unhealthy food and not getting enough good quality sleep. It can be a recipe for disaster. It’s important to know that you’re allowed to take time for yourself, and don’t feel guilty about it! If time is of the essence then quick play games can be a good way to destress for five minutes.

Online slot machine games are popular for their simple user interface and quick play nature. Whilst some people avoid online casino sites as they’d rather not pay to play, some sites offer free spins for new users. This means you can enjoy a few minutes of slots time without risking any money. If you prefer a board game format then there are plenty of mobile board games nowadays. Games like chess and solitaire take a more long-form approach but will save your progress if you’re called away suddenly. Taking just 5 (or even 25!) minutes every now and again can help you to unwind, reset, and avoid an argument with the in-laws.

Get Some Fresh Air

Although we all know that getting out and about is good for us, so few of us make it a priority. When the days draw shorter it’s more important than ever to get some daylight outdoors. staggering number of people in the Northern hemisphere have a vitamin D deficiency, so if you ever needed an excuse for some fresh air, this is it!

If you’re athletically inclined then combine this with your workout. Instead of clocking up the miles on the treadmill, head out to the local park. If you’re more of a couch potato then simply taking a half an hour walk in the afternoon will do wonders for your mood and your waistline. A simple metabolism boosting few minutes can really improve your state of mind for the rest of the day.

Make Christmas Dinner a Group Effort

Some people thrive under pressure. However, a hot kitchen, a timing’s list of military precision and a houseful of hungry relatives can throw even the most cool-headed of us off balance. Cooking a Christmas dinner needn’t be a stressful event though. The ‘Friendsgiving’ trend has really taken off over the last few years, where groups of friends come together, each bringing their own dish, to celebrate Thanksgiving. Why not try it for Christmas?

If you’re hosting then making sure you cook the centre-piece is the least you can do, but other than that, get your guests to each bring a side dish. Not only does this mean you aren’t run off your feet preparing food on the day, it means that you can really focus on making the main dish special. The food is going to be better, you’ll spend less money and most importantly, you’ll get to actually spend the day with the people you love, rather than slaving away over a hot stove.