71972972_MIt may be the most wonderful time of the year, but you’re not feeling much holiday cheer. You’re not alone! Studies show there’s a significant portion of the U.S. population who finds that the holiday season makes them feel anxious, lonely and/or sad. Experts say the cold winter weather, less sunlight, traffic, crowds, holiday gift-giving, hectic holiday schedules, unrealistic expectations and (whew!) trying to please everyone can drive you crazy. Try these tips for managing all of that holiday craziness:

Spend time with friends. Invite friends over for dinner or for a movie night. Lounge around and watch holiday movies together. Research shows that a strong (in-person) social support network is great for your health. Friends may help you ward off depression, boost your self-esteem, and even help you live longer! In addition to getting together with your friends, consider spending some time volunteering. Studies show that providing a lending hand to others can make you happier and healthier.

Stay active and step outdoors. You may feel more like hibernating, but daily activity is going to help you feel much better. While hitting the gym can be a great way to stay active, make an effort to spend time outdoors in the winter months. The natural light from a daily walk, playing in the snow or eating lunch on a park bench can dramatically help elevate your mood.

Get more sleep. Getting enough shut-eye is vital. If you’re like most people, though, you get less sleep around the uber-hectic holidays. There’s no doubt about it, the holidays are busy. But too little sleep can make you feel crabby and could make you more prone to colds and the flu. Making the time for adequate sleep also can do wonders for your health and mood. Make sleep a priority, even if it means scaling back on some of your commitments.

Go easy on yourself. Your holiday dinner with your family didn’t go so well? Did you eat one too many cookies? Your mother didn’t like the gift you picked out for her? Relax. Remember that things are bound to go wrong during the holidays. They even made a movie about it — National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

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