This time of the year can be especially stressful for the HR Professional. Whether it is year-end craziness, finishing touches on a project that goes live on January 1st, wrapping up benefits open enrollment or preparing payroll data for that fancy new box on the W-2s for health benefit premiums in 2012—we could all use a few tips to help us reach “HR Holiday Zen” during this time of the year which is supposed to be so joyful. The below is a short list of tips for you to consider this holiday season so you’re not tempted to go nuts on that sales associate who tells you the toy you’ve been searching all over town for is out-of-stock.

De-stress your Work Life

1. Prioritize

You have a hundred different tasks to do and all of them have to be done right now, correct? Incorrect. Although it seems simple, make a list of the things that you need to do and go in order of their priority. You don’t have elves to help you out (unless you call you coworkers that) and it’s time for you to be realistic about the expectations you have for yourself.

2. Say “no” when you can’t

If you’re one of those people who just can’t say no then repeat after me…“No!” See, that wasn’t so difficult now was it. You’re going to make yourself crazy. HR departments are thinner than ever post-recession and there’s a tipping point at which your work starts to look sloppy and/or you burn out. There’s nothing wrong with saying that you’ll get to it once your schedule clears up if it is something that can wait. Also, consider using a consultant if it’s a project that has high priority.

3. Organize

It’s simple concept but organization can make a huge difference. My life changed when I discovered the “tasks” function in Outlook. This function is a place where you can put the stuff that you need to do on or before a certain date—the program reminds you when you have something due and you can even set up recurrences for tasks that you do on a repeated basis. Now, I can be a bit greener and avoid a million post-its riddled throughout my desk. Also, consider moving employee files to digital format—you’ll save yourself a ton of time and there’s a lot of HR software out there that has this functionality built in.

De-stress your Home Life

4. Go to Suzie’s this year

You’ve had Christmas at your house for the last 5 years—it’s Aunt Suzie’s turn. There’s nothing wrong with being bold and saying you are going to someone else’s house this year to celebrate the holidays. That last-minute extreme home makeover you pull before the guests arrive is causing more wrinkles. Heck, go on a holiday vacation if it makes sense.

5. Limit the Expenses

The dollar value of a gift ≠ the love you have for the person. There’s nothing wrong with putting a healthy budget on this year’s holiday spending—your credit card shouldn’t smell like burnt plastic after a night of Christmas shopping. Consider shopping online, using coupons, promotional codes and re-gifting the presents that weren’t great for you—as long as they’re not used of course.

6. Be realistic about your family expectations.

No one has a perfect family—the Cleavors never existed and if they did people would think they were weird. You’re going to probably spend time with that relative everyone rolls their eyes about but you shouldn’t stress yourself out about it. You can only control your actions and the way you respond to stimuli. Be positive and your attitude will rub off on others. If that doesn’t work—invest in some wine.

Hopefully the above tips help you to make your holidays a little more enjoyable this year. Remember, whether you’re religious or not—the holidays aren’t supposed to be stressful—our culture has made them this way.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

-Mahatma Gandhi