It’s the most wonderful time of the year – but it usually comes with a side of stress. If you’re having a hard time managing the demands of the holidays, here are some tips that will help.
Change your mindset. Christmas only comes once a year – but it does come every year, without fail. That means if you’re too busy to participate in every party or family tradition, don’t worry about it. You can always do it next year.
Practice the power of no. Saying “no” is liberating. Don’t feel like you have to say yes to every party invitation or opportunity to volunteer. You’ll enjoy the holidays more if you pick and choose the ones that mean to most to you. Simply say, “I’m sorry, I already have plans for that time.” You can even practice by saying no in small ways, such as politely refusing a cookie from a well-meaning coworker.
Simplify your celebration. Holiday traditions create lasting family memories, but you should make sure they fit your lifestyle. Do you really need to cook a meal for your entire extended family? Or, this year, would it make more sense to fix a different main dish and ask everyone to bring a side or a dessert?
Focus on others. Instead of getting wrapped up in giving gifts, attending parties and baking goodies, find a way to give back to your community. Volunteer at a toy drive for underprivileged children or help out at a local food bank.
Choose a charity gift. Go to TisBest, JustGive or Network for Good and give someone a “charity” gift card. These cards allow the recipient to donate the money to a non-profit of their choice.
Don’t skip your regular workouts. The holidays provide plenty of excuses for cutting back on your exercise schedule, but it won’t help you feel any better. Exercise is an excellent way to relieve stress.
Boost your immune system. There’s nothing more stressful than getting sick during the holidays. Make sure you’re getting plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep and washing your hands. You should also get a flu shot to protect yourself from the most common strains of the flu virus.
Be flexible. Instead of trying to pack multiple family celebrations into a single day or weekend, create your own schedule for festive gatherings when it’s more convenient for everyone. For example, if you celebrate Thanksgiving with one side of your family, invite the other side over a few days later to celebrate leftovers day.
Take a day off. Rather than trying to fit all your holiday errands in on the weekend, use one of the vacation days you were saving for the holidays for some stress-free mid-week shopping. The mall will be less crowded and you’ll be able to zip through all the tasks on your list.
Get out of town. Need a fool-proof excuse for skipping out on holiday obligations? Book a vacation. It can be just you and your significant other, or you can bring your immediate family along. Use the money you would have spent on gifts to fund your trip and accumulate memories instead of stuff. Who knows, maybe winter travel is a new family tradition that you can pass on to the next generation–the gift of a totally stress-free holiday season!
Take a deep breath. If you find yourself feeling too stressed out and overwhelmed to even consider any of the suggestions above, pause for five minutes and take a few cleansing breaths. Then get a piece of paper and write down all the tasks that are swirling around in your head and driving you crazy. Once you have a plan in place, you can focus on checking off tasks instead of worrying how to juggle everything.