We’re well into the holiday season and for many of us, this means enjoying time with friends and family. But as the holidays ramp up, so often does our stress levels.

So how can you carve out some “me time” to take care of yourself?

Here are a few ways you can take a hands-on approach to your self-care. That way, you’ll ensure you can make it to mid-January with your mental health intact.

1. Be honest about your holiday plans

Fortunately, we’re in an era where self-care is appreciated and even expected. Telling friends and family that you’re looking for a balance between socializing and time alone helps set expectations. They’ll understand. In fact, they probably need the same. If they don’t, carry out your request with clear boundaries and time constraints.

2. Plan ahead and set your holiday budget

Look at your calendar holistically, so you can see when you might need some “me time.” Block out periods where you don’t have to do anything except look after yourself.

You can also plan out your holiday budget. This means looking at how much you can spend on food, gifts, going out, takeout, etc. Knowing how much you’re going to spend can also help you focus on other more important things, like your mental and physical health.

3. Know your limits (and party within it)

‘Tis the season of invites. There’s the work party, invites from friends and family and seasonal gatherings with acquaintances. If you love a party, then this is the season for you.

But if you like a balance between public and private time, empower yourself to say no to some invites. You don’t have to make up an excuse. A simple, “Thank you for the invite, but I won’t be able to make it” will suffice.

Whatever you do, don’t say yes out of obligation and then cancel at the last minute. Not only does that inconvenience your host, but it will leave you feeling guilty.

4. Stop the holiday guilt

Speaking of guilt, it seems to increase during the holiday season, doesn’t it? We spiral into a cycle of feeling like we’re not meeting others’ expectations. Then we beat ourselves up about feeling guilty, which makes us feel worse.

One way to combat this guilt spiral is to take a moment and step back. Examine your feelings and ask yourself if feeling guilty helps you. Many times, we haven’t actually done anything worthy of blame. Simply looking out for yourself doesn’t put you in the wrong.

5. Keep up with your fitness routine

It’s easy to fall off your exercise routine during the holidays. It’s also easy to feel another round of guilt for doing so. (That’s why there’s crowds at the gyms in January.)

Exercise not only provides endorphins - the feel-good hormones - it also allows you to take some time for yourself. Remember you’re not only exercising your body, but bringing peace to your mind.

6. Find ways to simplify your holiday checklist

Your to-do list is already a mile long during the holidays. So what can you cross off easily? For example, if you don’t enjoy baking, don’t feel obligated to make everything from scratch during the holidays. There are beautiful baked goods available to buy and bring to parties. Not only do you not have to spend more time in the kitchen, you can also support a local business. No one is going to judge you if you buy rather than bake.

7. Actively add self-care to your daily routine

Want to go for a run? Add it to your calendar. Spa treatment or massage? Book it and add it to the calendar. Then don’t cancel unless it’s an emergency. Putting it in your calendar helps you prioritize yourself during the holidays.

8. Reschedule events to next year

There’s something about the holiday season that makes people want to book all events together in a span of three months. Yet there are nine other months, so reschedule invites with friends for later in January, February or March. Plus, drinks and dinner gives you something to look forward to during the colder months.

9. Embrace your imperfections

No one is perfect, so why beat yourself up when things don’t happen exactly how you planned? Focus on what’s important to you and discard what isn’t. That may mean skipping a party, and instead spending quality time with friends, family, or even yourself. Keep in mind that perfection is a myth.

Read more: