CLEVELAND -- Believe it or not, the holiday season is almost here, and while it can be one of the happiest times during the year, it can also be the most stressful.
Holidays tap into our emotions; the good, the bad, the ugly.
One of the biggest pressures is to have everything be perfect. Whether it's buying the best gifts, cooking the perfect turkey, or throwing the nicest parties, the holidays can be overwhelming.
Cleveland Clinic psychologist Dr. Scott Bea offers several simple steps to keep that stress at a minimum.
Step 1: Make a plan and put it on paper.
"We tend to carry out this stuff in our head," Bea explained. "If we can actually create a plan, write it down, have a timeline, put tasks in that timeline and stick to that timeline and reduce some of that worry and get it out of our head and into the real world and make an actionable plan rather than carrying around all the worry."
Step 2: Focus on the positive.
Even if it is that you finished a load of laundry or finally got around to sending out that RSVP for a holiday party, pat yourself on the back.
Treat every completed task, no matter how small, as an accomplishment.
"That leads to better feelings than reflecting and ruminating on things have gone wrong and makes you feel more optimistic about the future as well," Bea said.
Step 3: Communicate.
This is probably the most important step.
Let people know how you're feeling.
Stressed about spending money on gifts?
Tell people ahead of time that you're on a budget, and be honest.
Dr. Bea says it's especially important to talk with your children so they know what to expect when it comes time to unwrap those presents.
"Give them a reasonable expectation that the holiday season may not be as fruitful as it has been in the past," Bea said. "Talking about that up front keeps people from having hurt feelings."
Dr. Bea also says it's important to realize that the holiday season may not be a happy time for everyone.
If you're dealing with a loss in the family or are going through a tough time, it is okay to feel blue.
Dr. Bea says one way of easing the pain is to change your routine or your traditions. Whether it's a change of scenery or different decorations, create an environment that you're comfortable with.