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Cut holiday stress off at the pass.

Find your inner chill with these 5 local activities.

Everybody knows someone who has a perfect relationship with their family—they’re supportive, loving, and never seem to get in arguments. And then there’s the rest of us. The holiday season is a roiling cauldron of stressful family dynamics, which bring up all the craziness of your childhood: your mother-in-law bugging you about giving her grandchildren, your sister bringing her deadbeat boyfriend to Thanksgiving dinner—the list goes on. But never fear! We have some suggestions to help you keep calm and carry on until New Year’s, when all these holiday shenanigans are over.

Volunteer to help families in need.

Many families are in desperate need of food and shelter. This is where you come in! Choose one of the many charity events in Denver, and bring your family to help spread some real holiday spirit. Your time and effort will be hugely beneficial to the community, and it could be a great bonding experience for you and your family. Volunteers of America offers a variety of programs for families, including delivering meals through Meals on Wheels, or serving meals at the VOA Mission. None of this sound like a good fit? Check out VolunteerMatch, an online resource that allows you to search for volunteer opportunities based on criteria like location, area of interest, and time commitment.

Hit the mountains.

The best thing about the holiday season is when it coincides with a fresh layer of snow on the Rocky Mountains. As a Denverite, you owe it to yourself to hit the slopes and experience some of the best skiing/snowboarding in the world. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a complete newbie, Colorado offers terrain that is perfect for you–so no excuses! Head up to Boulder and check out Eldora Mountain, which is smaller and cheaper than some of the more popular resorts (you know which ones we’re talking about). Not to mention, you’ll avoid the gridlock that is I-70 on a winter weekend. Check out some of their lesson packages, or just head on up to the summit for some steep and challenging slopes that will help keep your mind off the holiday stress.

Check out a rock climbing gym.

If shivering at the top of a mountain doesn’t sound like your speed, there’s another exciting sport calling your name. Denver is littered with indoor climbing gyms–filled with expert climbers training for their weekend trips–but also filled with newcomers who want to see what all the fuss is about. Introductory packages are cheap and often include gear rental. You’ll be taught the basics of safety and technique, so you can get onto some walls the first day. Check out Denver Bouldering Club or ROCK’n & JAM’n for some vertical time. Forget about all the Christmas presents you haven’t gotten yet as you make your way from handhold to handhold, leaving the ground far behind. And if you’re late to Thanksgiving dinner, chalk it up to your new hobby.

Take a cooking class.

Yes, this sounds counterintuitive at first glance,but hear me out! Many of us are scrambling to find recipes and ideas for our holiday meals–all the while stressing over how complex they are, which ingredients to get, and how much time everything will take. Take a deep breath, schedule a cooking class with a friend, and get out of the house for a while. In a class, you can learn new techniques, new dishes, and relieve some stress while enjoying yourself. And the best part is you can take that new experience and confidence and translate it to the holiday meal you’ll be preparing. Your family will love your creativity and skill as you put your training to use.

Some options to get your chef on:

Cultivate peace with yoga.

For those of us with a hurricane of a holiday season, yoga can be the centering force behind our survival. A flurry of flights, family, and festivities can leave anyone’s mind a mess, especially when the radio stations start playing Christmas music in November. Leave it all behind for a serene yoga studio and the soothing voice of your instructor. Let all of your mom’s bickering and your dad’s chiding melt away, and replace it with deep breathing and some much-needed core work. And there’s no need to leave Denver South to achieve bliss.

Check out one of these options zen options:
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