S o, Black Friday is behind you and if you’ve shopped that day, you’ve survived round one of the holiday season. Just after Thanksgiving, the traditional holiday shopping season begins. It’s a time of peace and joy and remembrance and celebration. So how come you can sense the stress of the season beginning as well?

For some people, to get ahead shopping now starts after Halloween. It’s often like being in an episode of my favorite TV show reruns, Rod Serlings’ “Twilight Zone,” which I now refer to as the Holiday Zone. There’s a lot more that lies ahead on your journey through the Holiday Zone. There’s the usual list of things to do, plus an extra holiday list to squeeze into your 24-hour day. The holiday season can be daunting. Then, slowly amid all the “Ho, ho, hos” there begins a chorus of “No, no, nos.”

Stress during the season of joy is more and more common. Work tasks despite the holiday lights and vibrant colors still need to get done. We listen to all the pop holiday songs. But after hearing Andy Williams sing for the 10th time “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” you feel depressed. What’s wrong? Where’s the balance of time and activity?

Some people look at you and wonder why you are so stressed out in your preparations. Work and home pressures are high. There’s some stress in finding the right gift for everyone on your list of close family and friends. There’s more to do than the time available to do it all. Holiday blahs are common. You’re not alone.

Added to this are the special challenges for people who are alone or who’ve lost a close family member or friend. The memories that seek room in the busy schedule often aren’t given the time they deserve. Memories become moments of great sadness rather than part of the grieving process.

So what can you do to reduce this stress? We have an anticipation of the holiday season buried in the past. The season has many traditions. Planning ahead gives more balance and time for work, family, and shopping.

Begin by asking yourself what’s really important to you. Start with realistic expectations for yourself and others. Keep your sense of humor alive and well. Develop a higher tolerance for frustration by pausing to do something for yourself. Know your limit and take a step back into a quiet place to relax and regroup. Ten minutes can be enough. Ask others to share your schedule if they can. Time pressures hurt the joy and peace of the season.

Believe in the spirit of the season and remember others are experiencing the same stress. Remember a spirit of caring and giving is the “reason for the season.” It’s also what brings the joy and peace you are working so hard to bring to yourself, family and everyone.

In the New Year, take a few minutes to write down what things made the hustle and bustle of the season less stressful for you. Keep the list and refer to it when preparing for the next holiday season. Share the list with others who are equally overwhelmed. This is your first gift for the 2016 Holiday Zone.