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Guest blogger Laura Magnifico provides tips on how to minimize holiday stress.
As we head into the time of year cheerfully referred to as the “Season to be jolly,” for many, this time of year is also the “Season to Be STRESSED.” While you go into the season with good intentions of focusing on the meaning of the holiday and keeping things simple, things always seem to quickly spiral out of control. Learn how to keep stress to a minimum this year with the following tips, and hopefully in the end, you’ll be able to say it truly was a “jolly season.”
- Lower the bar
You can’t help but watch old holiday movies and want to recreate the same picture perfect holiday for your family. But trying to make everything “perfect” is not only unrealistic it will quickly lead you down the road to burnout. Make a list of all the things that you want to accomplish. Go over the list and put a star by the things that are absolute musts and cross out the rest. It’s better to tailor your list to a few things and enjoy them, instead of trying to jam-pack dozens of things and being so worn out you can’t even appreciate them. Remember: as hard as you try and plan, things sometimes go wrong and you can’t always control the outcome. Tell yourself in advance to relax and that if things don’t turn out as you hoped, in the grand scheme of things, it’ll be o.k.
As your family and circle of friends grows, so does your gift-giving list. In addition to putting a burden on your wallet, figuring out what to get everyone can become a huge undertaking. For large families, rather than buying for everyone, at the beginning of the season have everyone randomly pick out someone’s name from a bowl. This way everyone is responsible for buying for one person. Do the same for your friends and co-workers. Many families also choose to only buy presents for the children.
3. Shop smart
Nothing says stress like fighting for a parking space and standing in a checkout line that snakes around the store. If possible, get your shopping done online. To save some money, check out some of the many coupon websites for discount codes that you can use towards your purchase at lots of popular retailers. If you do shop at a brick-and-mortar store, try shopping during less hectic times: early morning on weekdays, or in the evening on weekends.
4. Plan ahead
Just as you keep a calendar for your work and social obligations, keep a calendar for what you need to get done during the holidays. Plan out in advance days you will bake, shop, wrap, etc. If you’ll be hosting the family at your house, plan your menu ahead of time and make a list of what you’ll need to buy from the grocery store. Buy non-perishable items in advance so you’ll have them already in the house.
5. Don’t neglect your healthy habits
Lack of sleep, kicking your healthy eating habits to the curb, and putting off your regular exercise routine won’t help your cause one bit. In the end, your poor habits will only add to your stress! Continue exercising, practice yoga, meditate, and eat right. Taking time out for yourself to just relax is an important way to recharge your batteries and refocus your attention at the task at hand: learning how to stress less.
6. Go back to square one
It sounds cliché, but “don’t forget the reason for the season.” When you focus on why we’re celebrating this season all the insignificant things seem to fade away. Don’t lose the meaning. When consumerism takes a stronghold, take a step back. Do your kids need to open dozens and dozens of gifts? Do their stockings have to be overflowing with trinkets? What will happen if you don’t bake that tenth batch of cookies? Put things in perspective.
Laura A. Magnifico is a freelance writer from Stamford, CT and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.