The Holiday Season is notorious for being the most beloved time of the year, but if we’re honest, it’s also one of the most stress-inducing times too. There is so much to do and the expectations are so high. What if the grandkids don’t get the gifts they want and what if we don’t get all the baking, and card sending and shopping done? We imagine a picture-perfect holiday with a perfectly-decorated home, perfect attire and perfect meals. It’s just too much.
Here are some tips to make the holidays a more relaxed and enjoyable time. Read through the items and make some decisions now so your holidays will be fun and fulfilling, but not the stressful hectic running around time that it can become.
Identify the stressors and make some choices
Make a list of all the things you think you should do to be ready for the holidays and then take a good, hard look at each one. Some of the stress arises from spending too much money. Can you pare back the list this year and only buy for family? Only for the children? Only cook one big meal instead of five or six. Another stressor is too many activities and too little time. Map out the days and weeks leading up to the big days and then decide which theater events, which parties, which open houses to attend. It’s okay to say no to some of them. In addition take a look at the cooking and baking you will do. Choose one or two special things and then enjoy the event. The key to reducing stress is to be intentional. You’re in charge.
Plan ahead and be ready
If you’ve mapped out your holiday events then you’re in good shape. Now decide on some deadlines for the shopping, the baking, the preparation for parties and activities and put those on your calendar too. Don’t be one of those people still shopping on Christmas Eve. Don’t forget your computer can be your friend when it comes to shopping. The shipping charges probably aren’t as much as the gas money you’d spend driving all over town to find sales. Think simplicity when making your shopping lists and think quality when it comes to the events you choose to enjoy. Don’t attend a holiday party or activity unless you really want to. The quality comes in being fully present for each activity you choose.
Let your significant other or your children do some of the legwork this year. If you gather for the big meals, let the family members pitch in and bring some of the dishes. Let another member of the family do some of the shopping. Drawing names for gift-giving is often another way to distress and allow everyone to both save money while still receiving a gift. Imagine the day or two after the big holidays. By then it really doesn’t matter if everyone gets ten nice presents. What matters is that you were together and enjoyed a lovely time together. Get that picture in your mind before, rather than after the special day and much of the stress will go away.
Some of the stress of the holidays is the guilt that comes from overspending and overeating. Choose to keep doing the things that satisfy you the rest of the year. Keep exercising and getting out of doors. Keep eating reasonable while enjoying a few holiday treats. Determine to be a peacemaker if there are difficult people you have to see during the holiday gatherings. Go to the theater, enjoy special music, and by all means, give to a cause beyond your own family. The holidays are a perfect time to remember the poor and needy. It feels good to be generous during the holidays.
Once you’ve determined to be in charge of your own schedule and your own activities, the stress level for your holidays will drop significantly. It’s all about being proactive and making wise choices. So get busy, get out that calendar and begin choosing and paring and making the holidays your own. You’ll be glad you did.