Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a day of thanks spent with family and friends. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? It’s also the official start of the holiday season, which for many can be a dreaded time. If you’re interested in surviving the holidays there are several things you can do right now.

Surviving the Holidays

Accept that things will go wrong – No matter how well you plan the event, something is bound to go wrong. Accepting that people make mistakes, that we mess up, and that sometimes things are simply out of our control, we can still enjoy the moment with family and friends. Even if the meal is burnt, the venue is rained out, or the gift didn’t arrive on time. Smile, apologize if need be, and then let it go.

Accept help – We all have a friend or relative who insists on planning the big holiday meal all on her own. She refuses to ask anyone for help and then often complains because she has so much to do. Don’t be that person. Ask for and accept help from those who offer it. Everyone will have a much better time if the hostess isn’t completely worn out.

Avoid travel if possible – It’s often not possible but if you can skip traveling from San Francisco, with the whole family, to aunt Myrna’s house in Florida, for three days, do so. The stress from traveling can really make the holidays a difficult time for everyone in the family. Especially if you will be expected to stay at aunt Myrna’s house for the duration. If you must travel, get a hotel room so you can get away from the intensity of the whole extended family.

Set time limits – If you have several office parties, neighborhood gatherings and family meals scheduled for the holiday season be sure to limit the amount of time you’re willing to spend at each one. When the time is up feel free to excuse yourself from the event without guilt. This works for events you’re planning in your own home as well. When inviting guests give an end time to the party as well as a start time.

Practice your mindfulness – During the holiday season the odds are good you’ll get stuck in traffic or end up waiting in line for one thing or another. Instead of allowing yourself to feel stressed out and anxious, use the time to practice your breathing exercises or practice mindfulness (if appropriate, don’t try to meditate while driving). Use stressful situations to practice changing how you react to them. If you normally get all worked up if you have to wait in an unmoving line at Target, remind yourself that it’s good to stop and let everything go for a few minutes each day and the line at the store is a good reminder to do so. Breathe deeply and smile.

From my family to yours, I hope you have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!