You see the holiday season approaching on the calendar, and suddenly, you find yourself in action mode. You’re scrolling through your favorite online stores, flagging items that might make the perfect gift for your loved ones. You’re shaking the dust off the decorations that have been tucked in the basement for the last 12 months. You’re picking out the best cookie recipes to share with friends at your annual holiday gathering.

These are all important preparations, but there’s a lot more to jeholiday planning. We all know how stressful this season can get, and being proactive about your physical health, emotional well-being, and, yes, festive prep can help make a big dent in those stress levels. Keep scrolling for 11 expert tips that will help you get ahead of your seasonal worries.

getting ready for holidays

1. Take a social media hiatus. According to a recent survey from Everyday Health, 60 to 70 percent of young adults say they check their social media platforms at least daily. Why not dial that back for the holidays? “Give yourself the gift of disconnecting and see how great it can be to live in the moment with loved ones,” Everyday Health editor in chief Maureen Connolly says. “Be grateful for what you have and distance yourself from the comparison cycle and obligatory feelings to comment and post, which will add unnecessary stress — especially during the holidays, when social media use increases.” Sounds like one less thing to worry about!

2. Stick to your routine. It’s tempting to shake up your typical schedule when the holidays come around, but women’s health expert and BINTO founder Suzie Welsh emphasizes the importance of routine amid the revelry. Maintain your usual wellness habits as much as possible in November and December to ensure that your body (hello, immune system!) is in fighting shape to fully enjoy the season. Beautyrest sleep expert Dr. Rebecca Robbins notes that maintaining a consistent bedtime is especially key.

3. Wrap gifts as you buy them. If you’re anything like us, you tend to buy gifts over the course of the few weeks leading up to the holiday celebrations, which leaves you with a huge pile of packages to wrap at the last minute. Maybe you love turning gift-wrapping into an occasion of its own, but if you find that the process actually just drives you crazy, Scotch Brand‘s most gifted wrapper Alton Dulaney suggests that you wrap presents along the way instead. It seems so simple… why haven’t the rest of us been doing this for, like, ever?

4. Be intentional about fitness. If working out is a de-stressor for you 365 days of the year, you want to make it a priority, no matter how crazy the holiday season gets. RSP Nutrition nutritional consultant Monica Auslander Moreno encourages you to set extra measures in place to ensure that you make the time you need to sweat out your stress at the gym. Pre-book and pay ahead of time for classes to boost your accountability and lay out your exercise clothes before bed so you see them right when you wake up.

5. Create time for yourself. Yes, the holidays might officially be all about friends, family, hosting, giving, and general togetherness, but if you throw yourself all the way into doing things for others for the entire season, you are bound to burn out. Co-founder of support network app Supportiv Helena Plater-Zyberk suggests getting proactive about your alone time. Plan for a manicure, massage, or cozy day around the house between all the holiday celebrations. And if all else fails? “It’s okay to make an excuse and disappear when you’re about to hit your limit on family interactions,” Plater-Zyberk says.

6. Streamline gift-giving. Find one or two luxury items, then stock up on the rest and give them to several people on your list. We wouldn’t necessarily recommend this for close friends or family members (or people who are going to be in attendance at the same holiday party), but it’s a great way to complete the shopping process for coworkers, acquaintances, teachers, and more, per Jessica Turner, the blogger behind The Mom Creative and author of Stretched Too Thin.

7. Go theme-y. Already worried about how you’ll set this year’s holiday celebration apart from the rest? Elana Karp, head chef and culinary co-founder of meal subscription service Plated, suggests that you start planning with a fun theme in mind. “Even during the holiday season, a theme can help give you focus while planning and will make it fun for the guests too,” she says. Holiday prep will feel less stressful when you’re putting a twist on things with a country, year, or decade.

8. Decorate in low-traffic areas. Your most beloved holiday decorations probably bring a big smile to your face, but they can also interfere with your daily tasks and activities. Have you ever tried to make dinner on a countertop covered with festive figurines? It’s not easy! Co-founders of design platform SwatchPop! Jessica McRae and Kristen Yonson recommend that you focus your decorations on rooms and areas that are visible, but not necessarily used or touched. “Go all out on your mantel, shelves, sideboards, and front porch,” they say. “The house will look festive, but it won’t interrupt your family’s lifestyle.” And when your home is peaceful, you’ll feel more peaceful!

9. Take a bath. A bubble bath may feel like a luxury, something you’ll only have time to enjoy during that all-too-rare “you time.” The truth is, though, that a long soak in the tub can do so much more than chill you out. “A bath can offer huge physical and mental benefits,” reiki healer, chartered herbalist, and Crystal Hills founder Andrea S. Barone notes.”Soaking in a therapeutic bath allows you to detoxify and rejuvenate. Adding in this nighttime ritual can help you sleep better at night, ease muscle pain, and even burn calories.” Start working a bath into your routine ASAP to help minimize holiday strain.

10. Work ahead on wardrobe. Don’t find yourself in a last-minute pinch without an outfit for an upcoming party — and don’t feel like you have to spend tons of time and money designing the perfect holiday looks. Figure out how to create multiple looks using the existing staple pieces you already have in your closet. Digital wardrobe app Finery is a great resource to help you do just that.

11. Feel the feels. There’s a lot to celebrate during the holiday season, but it’s an emotional time too — and that’s okay. “If you find yourself feeling sad or worried, allow yourself to experience these emotions before making efforts to let them go,” Dr. Lindsay Henderson, a psychologist who treats patients virtually via telehealth app LiveHealth Online, tells us. “Giving yourself permission to feel negative emotions actually makes it easier to then move on from them.”

How do you plan to minimize your holiday stress? Tweet us @BritandCo.

(Photo via Getty)

Brit + Co may at times use affiliate links to promote products sold by others, but always offers genuine editorial recommendations.