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Holiday Stress --- Tips for Helping You to Overcome!

Holiday Stress 1

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:

  • Gift lists, shopping lists, trips to the crowded stores & crowded parking lots
  • Invitations, parties and party planning
  • Christmas Cards, trips to the post office
  • Finding enough money, finding enough time
  • Decorating, cooking, baking
  • Kids home every day
  • Cleaning, gift wrapping
  • Who goes to what family's house for Christmas, etc.?

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.

Holiday Stress:
You're Not Alone

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.

Holiday Stress
Here's how to have a "stress-less"
Holiday Season Tips

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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.

Lists to Help You Through the Holidays

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:

  1. It helps get the mental clutter out of your head and onto the paper where you can see it and manage it. Priorities are easier to arrange when they are in tangible form and 
  2. It helps you create your Holiday Plan (see Tip #1 above).

Here's some lists to consider making to help you reduce holiday stress:

  • Christmas Card List: Create a list of cards sent and received. Check the addresses to be sure they are valid. This will save on items being returned by the post office and help you save on postage costs.
  • Gift List: Make a list of who wants what and where to get it. Include sizes for clothing, color choices, brands, etc. as well.
  • Party Planning: Make a list of menu items. Check your pantry for what you already have and make a grocery list for what you need to get.

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Holiday Stress
Embrace Simplicity

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:

  • Do I really need to build a made-from-scratch gingerbread nativity with the three wise men, animals, shepherds and angels?
  • Do I really need to hang so many outside lights that I blow a fuse or the neighborhood electrical transformer?
  • Do I have to hang greenery from every window, railing and doorpost?
  • Do I really need Christmas bedspreads and matching curtains and pillows? While these maybe fun, they’re really not necessary (I know this because I used to be one of those people LOL!)

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!

Holiday Stress
Simplify Gift Giving

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.

Holiday Stress
Shop Smart

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:

  • Shop early and shop smart. If possible, shop during non-peak times at the mall. Shop when the store first opens or during the dinner hour when they typically slow down.
  • Do your research ahead of time by going online to get information and call stores to see if they have what you need.
  • Be sure you have all the information you need (sizes, color choices, brands, etc.) before you head out the door.
  • If you shop early, you can shop online or via catalogs/phone. Then you can relax and wait for the items to arrive instead of driving all over town hassling with traffic and parking!
  • Check out the information on Holiday Savings.

Holiday Stress
Wrap It Up Early

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:

  • Make sure you have what you need all in one place. Check your supplies of bags, boxes, tissue, wrapping paper, gift cards, ribbons, bows, tape and scissors.
  • Purchase only the items you’re out of.
  • Put everything all in one place and leave it there until all the presents are wrapped and under the tree or on their way to the intended recipient.
  • Don’t try to wrap everything all at once on Christmas Eve. Wrap as you purchase, and the task will not be as huge and feel like a burden instead of a blessing.
  • See the tips on Gift Wrap Organizer

Holiday Stress
Stock Up!

Tip #9: Stock Up & Be Prepared: Be prepared by:

  • Keeping your pantry stocked with necessary ingredients to put together simple meals, appetizers and snacks.
  • Cook meals ahead of time and freeze them.  This will help when you're too busy to cook for yourself or the family.
  • Keep things on hand such as soups, crackers, cheeses, little smokies, chips, dips, bottled water, eggnog, apple cider, hot cocoa, etc. If unexpected guests arrive, you have something you can pull out.
  • You can also keep one or two small gift items on hand for emergencies.
  • Don’t overlook your fridge! Be sure to clear out anything old and expired to make room for the holiday food.

Holiday Stress
Take a Breather

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.

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Holiday Stress
Get Tickled

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!

Holiday Stress
Eat Right & Exercise

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?

  • Exercise is a great stress buster. Whether it’s holiday stress or the everyday kind.
  • Most women have a tendency to neglect their own health in order to get everything done. If you can't join a gym, you can choose pass on the sugary treats and eat a piece of fruit instead.
  • Be prepared and pack a lunch and put healthy snacks in a baggy and keep them in your purse in case of a hunger/snack attack. You can make better choices.
  • Park further away from the store, walk the dog.  You can sit outside with coffee or tea (providing it's not too cold). Being outside in the fresh air and sunshine will lift your spirits.
  • Eating right and getting at least some sort of exercise will also help keep holiday guilt in check and lift self-esteem. 
  • You don’t have to run a marathon or get it all done in one hour. Studies have shown that doing little bits of exercise throughout the day is just as healthy and beneficial as those who get it all done at the gym in an hour.

Merry Christmas!

Hopefully, I will follow my own advice and you will too.

Lastly, remember:


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!

Merry Christmas!!

Links to Other Holiday Information

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