The holidays can be a magically and festive time. It’s an opportunity to enjoy family and friends, enjoy good meals, drive around and see the holiday lights and catch up with friends at parties. But it can also create a tremendous amount of stress…think National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!
So before the crush of the holiday season begins this week, it’s important to have a plan for how to deal with the unwelcome present of stress.
Set realistic expectations. Ever look at pictures and think “that is the perfect holiday table setting?” Try and remember one word when you look at images of the “perfect” holiday: PHOTOSHOP! Don’t stress yourself out trying to set the perfect table, wrap the perfect present or decorate the perfect tree. Focus on enjoying the season and leave the rest behind.
Set aside your grievances. If you’re a fan of Seinfeld, then you, like I, have probably fantasized about holding your own Festivus Airing Of Grievances. But that activity is better left to a sitcom. The reality is that family isn’t perfect. We all see the world differently or have varying opinions. Leave the political conversations for another time and the family holiday dinners will be a lot more enjoyable.
Budget, budget, budget. I know many friends who spend tons on toys and other gifts, only to spend the rest of the year paying off the credit card bill, and then do it all over again the next December. I’m not trying to be the grinch about gifts, but nothing is worse than opening the post-holiday credit card bill, so set a budget and stick to it.
Saying no is ok. There have been so many times I’ve said yes to a party or dinner, wishing the moment it came out of my mouth, that I could take it back. Overcommitting leads to stress, anxiety and very little downtime. Your friends and family understand and will respect you more for being honest about your time constraints.
Don’t abandon your routine. Hopefully, your routine is a healthy one. Assuming it is, don’t use the holidays as an excuse to workout less and eat more. Holiday decorations disappear much more easily than your waistline after the holidays!
Plan ahead. I love to bake cookies at the holidays—I only recently started doing this. The second Christmas after I started my new tradition, I made myself COMPLETELY insane, baking late into the night to make sure I didn’t forget anyone on my list. By sheer luck, I read an article back in August about freezing cookie batter…GENUIS! So I started the recipes for this year back at the beginning of October that now the cookies just have to be baked and delivered. If you plan ahead for your holiday traditions, you’ll leave yourself a lot more free time.
Do something nice for yourself. Get a massage, give yourself permission to take a nap in the middle of the day or turn your phone off and throw on a movie you’ve been wanting to see. Whatever it is, do something nice for yourself during this holiday season.
Ask for help if you need it. If you’re feeling stressed or down during the holiday season—or any time of the year—don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to family or a friend or go online and look for a resource in your area. You don’t have to be overwhelmed and help is usually just an ask away.