Christmas is a beautiful but overwhelming holiday. It's a time for hot chocolate and fuzzy socks and surrounding yourself with people you love, but it's also a time to worry about money, school, family, and making sure everyone around you is happy. That's how this holiday works for me at least. And don't get me wrong, I love Christmas. I just never really make the time to make sure I'm okay. I'm so busy worrying about everything else, I can never process my thoughts or sort anything out. So this list is for the people who need to sort out the not-so-cheery thoughts and some tips on how to combat them.

1. Make Time to Love Yourself

This may seem simple, but this concept has always eluded me. Because loving yourself can be hard. You will always be more harsh to yourself than probably anyone else in the world, but you're stuck with yourself for the rest of your life. So take some time for you. Go outside, hang out with friends, bundle up in a nice blanket and watch Christmas movies. Take that time to appreciate yourself and love yourself for who you are. And just remember that even when you're at your absolute lowest, you deserve to be loved, especially by yourself.

2. Stop Overthinking

Life is exceptionally complicated, but also very simplistic. There's no need to add extra strain and stress on yourself by adding hidden meanings to someone else's words or actions. All this does is hurt your relationships with others, and your relationship with yourself. Life is short, life is simple. Take it one step at a time, you'll be okay.

3. Learn to Forgive Yourself and Others

Everyone messes up, everyone makes mistakes. And that’s ok. We’re allowed to. But at some point, we need to forgive ourselves for everything. Stop ruminating on things from the past, rumination will only eat away at you and make you sad. So stop being kept awake by memories of you yelling at someone on June 24, 2005. Stop tormenting yourself about things you’ve done in the past. Because things happen for a reason and all of our mistakes and missteps were supposed to happen. And if you can forgive others for what they did, you need to forgive yourself too.

4. Don’t be Pretty like Them, be Pretty like You

Unfortunately, we live in a society where it is not only accepted but expected for us to compare ourselves to virtually everyone around us. This mentality of constant comparison is the root of self-esteem issues. I’m not as beautiful as her; I’m not as masculine as him; I’m not as smart as them; etc. The fact of the matter is, there will always be someone prettier than me, there will always be someone funnier and cuter and kinder and smarter than me, but there is only one me on this tiny blue dot we call Earth, and that’s enough for me. Let it be enough for you too.

5. It is Completely Okay to Feel Overwhelmed

Life is stressful and chaotic. And most of the time—especially around this time of year—anxiety perseveres and inner peace loses. I find that it’s easier for me to shift into sensory overload drive than to deal with everything at once. And that’s okay. I can’t possibly handle every single stressful event life has to throw at me, and everyone has those days where it just feels like the universe is out to get you and you just can’t catch a break. Sometimes you’ll have a big fight with someone before Christmas and then be writing an article and then your computer decides to do a quick update and delete the whole thing and then get food poisoning (yes, I am speaking from personal experience). But take some time to sort everything out once in a while, and remember that the universe isn’t out to get you. Life is all about making your way out of the chaos, just take your time and you’ll eventually reach inner peace again.

6. Always Find a Reason to Laugh and Smile

It’s Christmas! As stressful as everything is right now, take a deep breath and do something that will make you happy. You always need to combat the negative with a positive. If you’ve had an exceptionally crappy day at the job you have to make ends meet, if you’ve had a bad fight with someone you love, or even if you’re just feeling sad, do something that will make you smile. Make yourself a warm cup of coffee, wear only pajamas (with fuzzy socks of course) and read, or write, or listen to music that speaks to your soul, or watch that one funny sitcom that always makes you laugh. Smiling and Laughter are the foods that fuel your soul, so don’t deprive yourself.

7. Everyone has a Story You Know Nothing About

Everyone is struggling with something. Everyone has their own daily fights within themselves. So please just keep that in mind, and try to do things in kindness. I know it’s frustrating that you didn’t get the food you ordered, but please don’t yell at the cashier. They have probably been on their feet for over six hours with no break and no promise of one, they’re probably stressed about Christmas, the last thing they need is to be yelled at. Life is way too short to waste your time in anger, you need to fill it with love and compassion because these are what makes us human in the first place.

8. Always Find the Light in the Dark

A really dear friend of mine told me a story of a black canvas. An artist she knew was staring at this black canvas, and the darkness overwhelmed her. She began sobbing, and the darkness only persisted in mocking her. But then the artist took as many bright colors as she could find and she painted over all of the darkness. Life can sometimes feel like that black canvas. But we have to take as many bright colors as we can to combat the dark thoughts. We have to cover the canvas in color and also realize that you can never truly get rid of that blackness, but learn to come to peace with it. There is always a bright side, things will always get better.