It’s that time of year again.
A time of celebration, family gatherings, holiday parties, gifting, traveling, and most of all, excitement. While many of us are thrilled and looking forward to the holiday season, that excitement is generally accompanied by STRESS. Stress to pick out the perfect dish, give the perfect gift, maintain a spotless house, show up to every party, and decorate our homes like Martha Stewart. So here are a few tips to help you keep your holiday stress under control, so you can enjoy what the holidays are truly about.
- Acknowledge what’s got you stressed: While there are a plethora of things that can be feeding into our high-stress levels during this time of year, take the time to really focus in on the main cause of your stress. This will help you to pinpoint the problem and face it head-on and hopefully early on. This may take a few moments of quiet time away from the everyday hustle and bustle of life. What does your mind continuously go back to? What is preventing you from being able to focus? Chances are that may be one of the main causes of your stress. This is where you will need to make the decision whether to take it on, cut back, or step away. Is it that you know family will be visiting in just a few weeks, and you haven’t had time to tackle your family room for deep cleaning? Is it an outdoor project you’ve been working on for most of the year and you can’t muster up an answer for when Uncle Jim asks why you still haven’t finished it? Take it on. Make a specific goal for yourself with time frames and arrange for the project to be finished. Or realize that other people’s opinions don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Is it that you have spread yourself too thin, and you have no idea how you are going to be able to keep up your weekly volunteer session at the local food bank along with your other commitments? Cut back on your hours or those other commitments. People will understand. Is it that every year you take the time to make individual place settings unique to each family member, but there is no way you will be able to complete the settings along with all your other commitments? Step away, and realize that not everything needs to be perfect. This time of year is about the joy of family and friends, giving back, and gathering together. Don’t let perfectionism ruin this wonderful season.
- Plan ahead/ Start Early: Generally, you know the likes and dislikes of family members in advance. As you are going throughout the year if you come across something that makes you think of someone on your list grab it! You may even find it on sale depending on the item and the time of year. If you are stumped on what to get someone, listen to clues in your time with one another. I have an ongoing note on my phone so that when someone gives me clues, I can punch it in and look back at it when I’m out shopping. Make a list early on, and slowly begin to check items off as you go.
- Stay on budget: Yes, the holidays are fun, and getting gifts is even more enjoyable, but let’s not forget what we are truly celebrating. Family, fellowship, and friends. You show your love through daily actions, not just monetarily. Some of the best gifts have more sentimental value than anything. After making your list, shop around looking, and comparing the prices. Look for online ordering that involves free shipping. Search for coupons. If you see yourself reaching for that gift that is over your budget remind yourself that it’s not about the amount that you spend on the gift, it’s about the thought behind the gift.
- Don’t abandon your healthy habits: It is so easy with all of the holiday gatherings you are being invited to with overindulgent treats at your fingertips to allow yourself to lose sight of any healthy lifestyle you have been following. Life is all about balance. It is okay to treat yourself, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Pick and choose your favorites that you generally don’t get to enjoy and use moderation. It’s easy to overindulge on an item you don’t frequently eat. If you are traveling and used to exercising, look for hotels that have gyms, or ask your family where the nearest park is. Keeping your body in its normal routine as much as possible will allow yourself to maintain a close-to-normal state and prevent stressors.
- Take extra “you” time: It is so easy to lose sight of ourselves when we are focusing on everyone else. Make sure you take extra time to keep in tune with what you need. Take the long way home and drive in silence. Go for a walk with the dog. Take yourself out for your favorite holiday beverage. Take advantage of gift promotions when buying gifts to reward yourself and give yourself a boost. Get a massage. You must take care of yourself before you can do anything that comes along with the holiday season.
While the holidays can be stressful, they can also be so enjoyable. A time to gather with our loved ones and make memories that last a lifetime. Make sure you are managing your holiday stress so that you can embrace those special moments.