I love the holiday season. I love the sights and smells and sounds of Christmas. But, sometimes, I feel overwhelmed and stressed out as I prepare for the holidays. A quick search of the internet, social media, or, even a good, old-fashioned conversation with friends tells me I am not alone. But there are ways to de-stress our holidays. The holidays don’t have to be stressful.
8 Ways to De-Stress Your Holidays
1. Strategic Shopping
Plan your gift shopping ahead of time. Make a list and stick to it. That way you’ll spend less time in the stores or online shopping. Less time in the madness of holiday shopping means less stress for you. Another good idea is to shop minimally. We live in such an age of consumerism. Do our loved ones really need all that stuff? One truly thoughtful or much needed gift is worth more than ten little items that will be quickly lost of forgotten.
2. Share Responsibilities
You are not the only person responsible for making the holidays fun. Is the Christmas feast at your house this year? Let someone else share the cooking load. Assign side dishes to other guests. Enlist your family’s help in cleaning and decorating. Get the kids involved. They may not do it “perfectly” and that’s okay. Sharing the responsibilities will be good for you and good for them too.
3. Learn to Let Things Go
This tip goes hand in hand with sharing responsibilities. In order to share the load, you have to let go of wanting everything a certain way. Don’t let perfectionism ruin your holidays. The need for the perfect tree, perfect decor, the perfect gifts, and perfect meal is unrealistic at best and usually harmful to our well-being and happiness. In addition, let go of unnecessary things. This tip is related to the idea of minimal shopping. Try minimizing your holidays and see what that does to your stress levels.
4. Spend Time with Supportive People
One of the best ways to fight stress over the holidays is to spend time with supportive people. That sister-in-law who always notices if something isn’t cooked right? Forget spending extra time with her. The friend who can make almost any situation into a comedy? She’s the one to spend more time with this holiday season. Life is not a competitive sport. At least, a happy life isn’t. So spend more time with people who get that and your stress levels will go down.
5. Learn to Say No
Is your calendar packed with events and appointments? Try saying “no” to a few of them. You can pick and choose how you spend your time. Are you getting hit up by every charity, good cause, and volunteer organization? The holidays are a wonderful time to share what we have with others, but you can choose one or two causes and politely say “no” to the others. Don’t stretch yourself or your bank account too thin.
6. Mentally Prepare
Sometimes we can’t avoid negative situations (or family members). When we have to face something or someone we’d rather not deal with, it’s time to mentally prepare ourselves. The wrong way to mentally prepare is to worry and stress and tell ourselves, over and over, how awful things are going to be. That simply does not work.
Instead, we can prepare in positive ways. Come up with topics for conversation that can help avoid conflict. We can practice affirmations that strengthen our self-worth. And we can plan an exit strategy for if and when we need to leave a stressful situation. Having plans in place can help us go into a potentially stressful or hurtful situation with confidence and self-worth.
7. Side Step Conflict
Everyone has that one family member or coworker who seems to relish causing conflict. You know the one, he brings up politics, religion, or some other controversial topic. She drops a verbal bomb shell, and then sits back and watches the fireworks. The best way to diffuse such situations is to step around them and keep moving. Arguing rarely changes a person’s opinion on hot topics. The best way to de-stress your holidays is to keep conversations on positive things and lighter topics.
8. Be Kind to Yourself
We are often so busy doing things for the people we love during the holidays, that we forget to stop and take care of ourselves. The first step in self-care is being kind to yourself. It’s okay if you forget something on your arm-long to do list. Oops, the pie crust is a little dark. So what. You really wish you could buy something nicer ( bigger, fancier, more important) for your mom (dad, sister, friend, kids), but it’s not in your budget this year. It really is the thought and love you give that counts.
Don’t beat yourself up over your shortcomings (perceived or real). Get enough rest. Drink enough water. Take time to nurture what makes your soul, mind, and body happy. You deserve to have a happy holidays too. Give yourself a break and so how far that goes in lowering your stress levels.
The holidays don’t have to be stressful. They aren’t meant to be. This season is supposed to be about love, kindness, sharing, family, friends, and celebrations. Try to keep these things in mind and learn to let go of the rest. I sincerely hope you enjoy your holidays with as little stress as possible.
As always, thanks for reading and please share with those who can benefit.