Tis the season to often feel a little (re: a lot) overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious.

Part of the reason for this is because often times the Christmas Season comes with a whole lot of obligations, commitments, invitations, and engagements. There are presents to buy, parties to attend, open houses to show up at, baking to get done, guests to house, travelling to do and many, many other unspoken expectations to fulfill.

It can be enough to make anyone lose their cool and have a freak out. Or 2. Or 10.

Although it feels like you have to do everything and be everywhere at once. You don’t. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to decline an invitation because you have another commitment (that commitment being sitting at home in your PJ’s drinking hot apple cider and watching A Charlie Brown Christmas).

There are so many things that are actually okay for us to do if we allow ourselves to let go of the SHOULDS, OUGHTS, HAVE TO’S and MUSTS typically only fabricated and clung to in our own minds.

Actually, I take it back. Not only are they okay for us to do, they are GREAT for us to do. Because if we can take care of and consider ourselves, our boundaries, limits, preferences and needs we are able to be MUCH better friends, parents, children, and colleagues.

Feeling worn out, stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed typically (read: always) goes hand and hand with being more irritable, impatient, touchy, short-tempered, and not so nice, and let’s face it, that doesn’t do any good for anyone.

So here are 5 more things that are GREAT for you to allow yourself to do over this Christmas Season.

1. It’s great to tell relatives or friends they are welcome to come and stay with you for a maximum of 4 days – because as we know, both fish and house guests begin to smell after 4 days. And vice versa – you’re allowed to say you can only stay with them for 4 days if that’s as you can do.

For the sake of your relationship and for the sake of your sanity, honestly ask yourself what you can handle, and stick to that. No one needs to be a hero. Oh, and no one will really notice or care if you try to be.

2. It’s great to buy gift cards – especially to a spa. I’ve yet to meet a woman who doesn’t love receiving a gift card for a mani or pedi or both! Or a guy who doesn’t like being gifted with one from an electronics or hardware store.

Keep it simple because the only person who will actually be disappointed you spent your hard earned money on a gift (card) for them is someone who probably doesn’t need or deserve the gift in the first place. Have we talked about gratitude lately?

3. It’s great to check in with yourself regularly and see how you’re doing, and if you’re feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed it’s important to take a step back and sit. And breathe. And live.

If you need a break from an all day or all evening family gathering, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s great. That’s what you need, so take it.

You can find a less trafficked bathroom and play a few rounds of Words with Friends (which is also a great way to see who else is needing a celebration ‘break’ at the moment), or get out for a short walk and get some air, or go for a drive around the neighborhood. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it gives you a bit of a re-fill.

And if anyone gives you grief about it, just tell them you need a little time to digest (just don’t tell them they are the ones causing your indigestion).

4. It’s great to let go of the idea of the perfect Christmas where you settle in to that big cozy chair under a plaid flannel blanket beside a crackling fire, with a cup of eggnog in hand while the rest of your family sits comfortably together and has a lovely, light, and easy conversation interrupted only by the whole room breaking into a perfectly melodious and especially bouncy version of ‘Here We Go A Wassailing.’

Oh, and then the impeccable Christmas meal magically appears beautifully spread out on the meticulously decorated table while the host(s) (including you, if you are the host) is perfectly relaxed and put together. Even if you think that’s the way it happen for everyone else’s family – I can promise you right now – it doesn’t.

5. If you can take #4 seriously and let go of how Christmas “should” go, then you might actually find moments of joy, happiness, and fun during the season (which is great too!!).

If family dynamics are becoming to be a lot, take a step back and try to laugh. Have fun with them and try to put past issues and transgressions aside – at least for now. You likely won’t be able to change challenging relationships at this time and one of the best ways to cope with something we can’t change is to learn to develop a sense of humour about it.

This is your nutty family and you are stuck with them, so if you are able, you may as well make the best of the short time you’ll all be together.

If traffic or crowds are causing you to feel crazy, stop for an eggnog latte and enjoy sipping it as you sit in traffic, or crawl your way through a crowd. Try and slow it down and do what you need to do to find your place of solace among the chaos.

The Christmas Season doesn’t have to be as intense, stressful, and exhausting as we seem to like to make it.

But many of us have become well versed at making things more complicated than they need to be. And of course, like most things, it’s a choice. And let this be the year you chose to do things that are GREAT for you and allow yourself enjoy the goodness that comes with this special time of year.