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Give Holiday Stress the Heave Ho-Ho-Ho!
Christmas is, indeed, the most wonderful time of the year. Celebrating the birth of our Savior is always a great thing. That being said, Christmas has a tendency to be one of the most stressful times of the year as well.
We all know what's about to happen:
All this comes on top of your already busy daily schedules! No wonder people look worried, frustrated, grumpy and unhappy this time of year. Anxiety is written all over most people. When you add the troubled economy, with many people unemployed for facing unemployment, the odds seem insurmountable to have a Merry Christmas.
I'm no stranger to the holiday stress. The economic downturns have affected me and my immediate family as well. Like a lot of people, my tendency is to compensate with less sleep and eating comfort foods which are usually high in calories and sugar. None of these are recipes for good health, Merry Christmas or a Happy New Year!
As the Serenity Prayer says, I am seeking this Christmas season To have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
I can't change the economy, work-related pressures or make the holiday season go away and neither can you. However, I did follow my own advice and chose to focus on what I can do, not on what I can’t do. I sat myself down and made a list of things to accomplish that will make a difference and reduce my holiday stress now and for years to come.
This holiday stress page is my Christmas gift to you. Hopefully, you will use some or all of these tips to have a more relaxed and stress-less Christmas.
Tip #1: Make a Holiday Plan: No one plans to get over-whelmed. This typically happens when we fail to plan and don’t say: "No thank you" to some things. The best way to overcome this type of holiday stress is to make a plan and stick to it. Write down all the important dates of things that you truly want to attend: your child’s Christmas play, a concert or ballet, office party, visiting grandma in the nursing home, get a haircut, etc. Be sure to include time on the calendar to be with your family. Taking time to see Christmas lights together is far more meaningful and has far greater positive consequences than some other, lesser important activities. This Ultimate Christmas Planner can come in handy for all your holiday planning.
Tip #2: Get Control of The Schedule: You don't have to attend every party you get invited to. Time is limited. To reduce holiday stress, revisit what was important: Christmas is a time for worship, families and sharing. Instead of running the kids to several kiddie parties or attending dozens of office parties, try opting for more simple pleasures: bake cookies with grandkids or look at Christmas lights together.
Tip #3: Learn to Say: “No Thank You!”: We often we feel that we have to accept every invitation that comes along. We feel bad telling people No thank you because we don’t want to hurt their feelings.
If the invitation comes from your boss, you may feel pressured and/or obligated to go. In order to reduce our holiday stress, we have to come to the realization that we can’t be all things to all people all the time! Setting priorities is a MUST!
We have to limit the number of things that you say Yes to and realize that most likely we won’t hurt anyone’s feelings if we simply tell them that we appreciate them thinking of us, but we’re already over-committed.
If the invitation is something you would like to attend next time, ask them to invite you next year and you can add it to your holiday plan.
Tip #4: Make Lists and Check Them Twice: As I’ve said elsewhere on this website, making lists is EXTREMELY helpful to reduce stress in general for a couple of reasons:
Here's some lists to consider making to help you reduce holiday stress:
Tip #5: Decorate & Celebrate with Simplicity: With so many things on your To Do list, it's often hard to even know where to start.
My solution was to review my lists and try to find at least one thing that really didn't need to be done and mark it off. I would suggest that you do so as well. Look at your lists over and over and eliminate some things. Trim it down until you have only truly important items.
By celebrating a little more simply, you can save money and have more time to do something good for yourself and your family. Ask yourself some questions:
I now enjoy my simplified Christmas just as much as ever, not to mention I made money having a garage sale and selling those excess Christmas decorations!
Tip #6: Simplify Your Gift Giving: Is your family like ours? My family has grown to the point it's not reasonable to get everyone a gift. My husband's family has also grown too large for individual gifts.
His family opted to have a holiday breakfast and to get presents only for the members of their immediate family. My family took a different twist. We still have our big family get-together, but we do a Chinese gift exchange instead. Everyone who participates brings a gift of a designated amount and then let the friendly gift stealing begin! Everyone had a great time and enjoyed it immensely.
Another option is to get gift cards to movies, bookstores, etc. in equal dollar amounts for everyone on your list. It may not be as personal but will be appreciated and it eliminates any gift comparison.
Tip #7: Shop Smart: Some people love to shop while others dread it worse than a root canal at the dentist! To avoid some of the holiday stress associated with shopping try the following suggestions:
Tip #8: Wrap It Up Early: Some are more gifted (pun intended) at wrapping presents than others. Whether you enjoy it or not, you can make the task easier by following these tips:
Tip #9: Stock Up & Be Prepared: Be prepared by:
Tip #10: Take a Breather: This will not only help with holiday stress, but stress in general. Breathing exercises help reduce all types of stress. When you feel stressed, the fight/flight mode kicks in. We tend to shallow breathe and tighten up. Take some relaxing breaks and do some deep breathing and stretching. It always makes me feel happier and invigorated afterward.
Tip #11: Get Tickled: This is a really fun way to reduce holiday stress.
Laughter is, indeed, the best medicine! The endorphins that are released during laughter have been scientifically proven to make you feel better and reduce stress levels. Laughing also stimulates circulation, helps the immune system and works the abs! Take time to sit down and watch a funny movie!
Tip #12: Eat Right and Exercise: What's that? Did I hear a Yeah, right! Maybe after New Years?
This area is one I struggle with as well. But, why wait?
Hopefully, I will follow my own advice and you will too.
YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING PERFECTLY!
Follow some or all of these tips and make this Christmas season as stress-less and enjoyable this year as possible.
Here's hoping you and your family enjoy your time together and celebrate the birth of our Lord who is, after all, the Reason for the Season!
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