If hearing “Jingle Bells” or “White Christmas” fills you with dread over last-minute shopping, decorating, meal preparations and more, your stress quotient is probably at the max. You can, however, take proactive steps to make this holiday season much more enjoyable. Here are 10 tips that can likely help.
Forget About Doing It All
Why feel you must be SuperMom or SuperDad or SuperAnyone this year? So, what if some things just don’t get done? Will it be cataclysmic? Will you really care a year from now or even next month? The remedy here is to pare your to-do list to the essentials. Wrap presents. Figure out a welcoming menu and one that’s less hassle to prepare. Invite only those you enjoy being with and don’t worry about being the “perfect host.” You can have a peaceful holiday without overwhelming yourself to tick off everything you thought you must do.
Enlist Help to Get Things Done
Why should you be the only one slaving away in the kitchen? It doesn’t matter if your teenage daughter (or grown son or daughter, for that matter) is engrossed in posting to social media or chatting/texting with friends, ask for their assistance with getting the meal together – or cleaning up afterward. The old saying, “Many hands make light work” is completely appropriate. Their help means less stress for you and time for everyone to celebrate being together when tasks are out of the way.
Make Sure You Take Time to Relax
An often-overlooked tip for making holidays less stressful is to pencil in time to relax. Whether it’s listening to music, taking a walk outside, diving into a book, watching old movies on TV or getting a massage, you deserve to make use of ways to relax that work for you. Don’t ever feel guilty for doing so, either. The fact is that you’re much more fun to be with when you’ve ratcheted down your stress level.
Tickle Your Funny Bone
Laughter is a great stress reducer. Along with smiling, laughter sends a signal to your brain that things are just fine. Stress tamps down, considerably. When others tell a funny joke, show your appreciation with laughter. Find some PG-13 jokes you can share as well by doing an online search. Post a funny saying, joke or cartoon or hang a printed version on the bulletin board.
Take Loving Care of Yourself
You won’t be your best version of yourself if you’ve deprived yourself of sleep, indulged too much in food or drink, or got yourself all whacked out by accepting too many social engagements. Strive for moderation. Good self-care will pay off handsomely with decreased stress all through the holiday.
Give What You Can – Not More Than You Can Afford
Too many times we find ourselves spending more for gifts than we can reasonably afford. No matter how much a grandchild begs for the high-priced electronic or software tech or how much you’d love to get that diamond watch or necklace for your loved one, it’s the sentiment behind your gift that matters most. At least, it should be your primary consideration. If the recipient casts a dim eye toward your gift, that’s their problem. Avoid the stress, headache and pain in the wallet that you know will come when the bills are due by only giving what you can afford. A corollary to this is to use what you know about the intended recipient’s likes and wants to opt for a thoughtful gift.
Put Some Organization into Your Holiday
Instead of reacting to whatever’s happening on any given day this holiday season, it’s better to begin with a plan. Know ahead of time what’s essential to tackle today. Get some of the more time-consuming or difficult tasks out of the way early. That way, you’ll have a big load of stress removed and will feel better about the remaining items on your must-do list.
Wake with a Profound Sense of Gratitude
The best way to prepare yourself for a stress-free day is to greet each day with a deep and reverent sense of gratitude. Say a prayer to your Higher Power. Meditate for a few minutes upon getting up. Take a few moments to be thankful for all that you have and loved ones and friends to share these special days with. Be hopeful about the future.
Practice Releasing Tension with Deep Breaths
An effective technique for ditching tension and underlying stress is to take a few deep breaths at the first sign of these negative physical and mental reactions to what’s going on around you – or within you. Consciously release any thoughts, frustrations or emotions that cause you dismay.
Keep Others in the Loop
When you start to feel stressed or overwhelmed, instead of suffering in silence and allowing the situation to escalate to a point where you explode, confide in loved ones, family members, a trusted friend, your therapist or a support group. Experts say that talking about the stress you are experiencing helps defuse it. It also helps to know that you’re not alone and that others are there to support you through this time.
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