Although holiday gatherings for some families may resemble a Norman Rockwell painting, said Gannett News Service writer Betsy Miner Swartz in the Star-Gazette, for many they’re “about dysfunction, over-sharing, under-appreciating, raised voices, dicey conversations and zinger comments.” Don’t take the bait: “The best way to extinguish an inflamed remark or criticism is to take the high road and ignore it.” Create diversions: “Haul out family photos” or “play a fun game.” And find some quiet time: “Slip off into another room by yourself for a bit or take a quick stroll.”

The holidays can also be tough on the waistline, said Becky Fox in Knoxville’s News Sentinel. When we’re “hungry we not only eat more, but we make poorer food choices,” so “eat something healthy before you arrive at your holiday party destination.” You don’t have to “deprive yourself of those foods you love,” but try to eat smaller portions. And stay active—“exercising will help to keep your appetite under control, stress levels manageable, as well as allow you to burn some extra calories.”

For those who have lost a loved one, said Larry Kilpatrick in the Fort Collins Coloradoan, the holidays can be especially difficult. But “remember, anticipation of any occasion is usually much worse than the actual day.” Try to “avoid additional stress as much as possible and be willing to acknowledge and accept your limitations.” Don’t be afraid to alter your usual holiday traditions. “Plan something to look forward to after the New Year begins.” And “surround yourself with supportive people—they may not understand what you are feeling but can provide the emotional support you need.”