The holidays are a fun and exciting time of the year; however, they can also be very stressful.  Keep the following tips from our partners at Jaeger and Flynn in mind when navigating through the holidays to help minimize the effects of stress on your plans.

TRAVELING: The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for long-distance travel. Flights are often overbooked and highways are overcrowded, which can add stress to the season. Keep your sanity to keep travel worries from ruining your holiday plans, and reduce your stress by planning ahead.

Use the following tips to help you stay in control during your trip.

If you are flying:

 • Do not delay purchasing tickets. Make your reservations well in advance to make sure you have many flight times, prices and seats to choose from.

• Choose your ticket wisely. Travel on off-peak days and during early morning hours whenever possible. Airports tend to be less crowded during these times, which will make it easier to get another reservation if your flight is canceled.

• Call or check online to confirm that your flight is still on time before leaving for the airport.

• Check in for your flight online, if possible, to avoid waiting in line at the airport.

• Stay hydrated. Drink water frequently to avoid jet lag.

• Pack wisely. Avoid checking luggage, but if you have to, keep prescriptions, glasses and other overnight basics in your carry-on bag in case your luggage gets lost. Keep in mind that most airlines charge fees for checking luggage.

• Fight boredom. Pack activities to help pass the time, especially if traveling with children.

If you are driving:

• Be prepared. Have a mechanic examine your vehicle before your trip. Also, be sure to pack emergency and first aid supplies in case your car breaks down.

• Know your route. Plot out your route before leaving, and bring a map. Make sure your phone is fully charged if you plan on using smartphone maps or bring along a GPS.

• Save time. Try to do most of your driving during non-rush hour times to avoid the bad traffic.

•Take a break. Rest every two hours and limit yourself to eight hours of driving each day. Stop at rest areas to walk around and stretch. Make more frequent stops if traveling with small children or pets.

•Lay off the caffeine. Drink plenty of water and eat balanced meals. Drinking caffeine may make you crash a few hours later.

• Wear safety belts at all times. When used correctly, they significantly reduce the number of serious traffic injuries and fatalities.

STICKING TO YOUR BUDGET: The holidays can be a stressful time of year, and money is one of the leading causes of holiday anxiety for Americans. The best time for holiday budgeting begins early in the year, when smart shoppers account for expenses associated with the holiday gift season in their monthly budgets and buy presents here and there throughout the year. Additionally, resourceful budgeters flock to stores AFTER Christmas to scoop up decorations at bargain bin prices with an eye toward future holidays. However, if you’re like most people, you likely have not planned very far ahead and could find yourself feeling the pinch in January. But don’t despair—with proper accounting and a handful of smart shopping ideas, it is possible to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list and stay within your budget.

Here are a few pointers to help you stick to your holiday budget and manage your seasonal financial stress:

• Make a list and check it twice. Review your shopping list carefully. Does everyone listed on it truly need to be there?

• Set limits. Write down a maximum dollar limit for each person, vow to stay within that limit and then track how much you actually spend.

• Shop early. The best window for holiday shopping is between Oct. 1 and Dec. 1.

• Buy in bulk. Have something on hand for those unexpected presents. A case of wine or elegant candles are great ideas.

• Be realistic. Ask yourself if you can really afford to buy gifts—don’t feel obligated to buy them if you can’t afford them.

• Talk to your friends and family about scaling back. Ask about doing a gift exchange instead of buying gifts for everyone. If you find these things too embarrassing or unworkable consider going the homemade gift route.

• Shop online. Some of the best bargains won’t be found in stores. Many retailers will waive shipping costs during the holidays. Plus, why spend the days before your holiday celebrations wasting gas and battling crowds for items that may not be in stock?

• Get a holiday job. Even with a good budget, the extra holiday shopping can pinch the pocketbook. Consider working a seasonal job.

HOLIDAY PARTIES: Holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s bring to mind thoughts of family, friends, fun and food. However, each year, millions of Americans struggle to maintain their waistlines during the holidays while surrounded by tempting holiday treats. By following the healthy tips below, you can enjoy all your holiday parties, while also staying in control of your weight.

• Do not leave the house on an empty stomach— it encourages overeating.

• Avoid standing near the food table at parties, since it’s a sure-fire way to overindulge.

• Make socializing your top priority; conversation will keep you occupied and away from the food.

• Limit your drinking because alcohol can increase hunger and lower your willpower.

 • Provide a low-calorie alternative. For example, if you have volunteered to bring a dessert, bring fruit drizzled with chocolate instead of a cheesecake.

• Listen to your stomach. Reduce your portion sizes and stop eating when you feel satisfied rather than stuffed.

COOKING AND BAKING: If you are the one hosting, use that to your advantage. Hosting puts you in control of what will be served. For example, substitute high-fat or calorie-laden ingredients with healthier choices, such as by using plain greek yogurt in place of sour cream or an egg substitute rather than a whole egg. There can also be a downfall when it comes to hosting: the temptation to sample the food while you are preparing it.

To resist the urge to snack while cooking, try the following tips:

• Chew a piece of sugar-free gum or sip tea to reduce your urge to sample while you cook.

• Prepare foods on a full stomach. You will not be as tempted to taste what you are making if you are full.

Although the holiday are known to be an exhilirating yet exhausting time, they are meant to be a time of reflection on the important things in life and giving thanks with loved ones.  So while going through the hustle and bustle of the times it's important to remember to enjoy yourself and those around you!

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