We squeeze a lot of special moments into the 6 weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Often, this time of year feels less joyful than expected. In fact, one might liken it to a 42-day triathlon complete with sweat, tears and maybe some blood if you’re not careful carving the turkey.

We do not anticipate the holidays will take control of our lives. Once we take our own traditions and combine them with the traditions of partners and/or friends, the to do list of expectations grows. Suddenly, one is making 3 different sugar cookie recipes and attending a different holiday show or party every weekend. Reclaiming holiday joy is simpler than you think. Stop a holiday downward spiral before it begins with the following tips.

Simplify Your Traditions

Abandoning or rethinking some traditions can be a healthy solution when you feel overwhelmed or no longer look forward to participating in the traditions.

Stop obsessing over doing it all and start thinking quality, not quantity.

Not sure how to begin? Here are a few easy strategies to help you get started:

• Choose three holiday events you could skip with little (or no) consequence.
• Consider whether some events could be every-other-year instead of yearly.
• Simplify things you want to continue.
• Plan (way ahead if possible), so the day of an event you have less to do.
• Schedule some gatherings/events in January.

Often, we lose sight of things that bring us holiday joy in our attempt to bring joy to others. It’s ok to offer alternative plans or even say ‘no.’ Don’t be afraid to be the catalyst to simplify this season.

Let Go Of Perfection

Sometimes a commitment to holiday perfection creates additional stress and keeps us from accomplishing our goals. Getting hung up on all the things that aren’t perfect dulls your joy and cuts into the time you have for other things. If the idea of slightly lowering your standards is simply too much to consider, try outsourcing some tasks. Leave yourself with the tasks you truly enjoy; those that will bring you happiness as you complete them.

For most, holidays are spent with the family and close friends in our lives. Other people’s behavior is an uncontrollable variable. There will be be irritations, frustrations and imperfections. Knowing and accepting this will make it is easier to let go of your “perfect” expectations and help you appreciate the quality time you have with everyone.

Invest In Yourself Daily

The more you have going on, the more important it is to take time to keep yourself healthy and upbeat. Try not to sacrifice daily routines and healthy food choices; prioritize your work-outs, sleep and quiet moments. Eating right whenever possible will help you to manage stress and anxiety. Quality sleep is important when holiday chaos is present.

Not letting the holidays run amok with your routine and diet will help keep your stress in check and leave you recharged to handle challenging relatives, manage conflicting commitments and keep your sense of humor when everyone else has lost theirs.

Embrace Shortcuts

Expediting your ability to achieve the holiday you desire will free up valuable time to spend with the people you love. This isn’t compromising, it’s taking a path of least resistance as a guarantee to make everyone happier.

Be willing to try one or more of the countless possibilities available for simplifying life at the holidays. You actually might find yourself wondering why you ever did things another way! Perhaps one of these ideas can get you started:

• Select one go-to gift, meaningful to you, for people outside your family.
• Try shipping-from-home options and skip the in-store lines and headache.
• Use disposable (but recyclable) tableware.
• Strategically purchase pre-made foods; arrange on your own serveware.
• Reduce the variety of home-baked goods and pre-mix the dry ingredients.

Choosing to calm down your holidays will make them more enjoyable for you and everyone around you. Use this time to reflect on the good in your life and look forward to what’s still to come. Give yourself permission to slow down in order to find joy AND peace this holiday season.

Originally published on Medium.

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