Halls to Deck. Yuletide Carols to Sing.
How did such a holly jolly season get so stressful? This year, say no to breakdowns at Macy’s, exhausted backtalk to Grandma and sleepless nights (unless you’re waiting for Santa). Keep the holidays festive and light by defeating holiday stress head-on. Arm yourself with these 10 expert tips, gathered from Health & Wellness articles.
- Take Care of Yourself
You’ll need to be at your best to tackle the holidays with minimal stress,
so now is not the time to abandon your healthy habits. Eat healthfully, including breakfast each morning, and use portion control while digging in the rugelach. Get your sleep and schedule regular exercise. And give yourself the little gift of “me time” each day – even if it’s just 15 minutes to read a book or ….
2. Expect Imperfection
This isn’t a Norman Rockwell painting. Nothing will be perfect, and unforeseen events will occur. Aunt Martha may unexpectedly
show up to dinner; your kid’s most-desired toy may sell out; the dog may knock over the Christmas tree. Banish this idea of the perfect holiday, and you’ll likely be calmer when – look at that – the holiday isn’t perfect. Being realistic may also mean dropping old traditions and accepting new ones, which may include Aunt Martha.
Between errands and shopping and wrapping and decorating and cooking and traveling, don’t forget to breathe! Mediation can help ease stress, curb negative thoughts and give you a sense of calm when everything around you seems to have snowballed into a red, green and tinseled train wreck. Skeptical of meditation? It doesn’t have to be anything mystical. Try these meditation tips for beginners and meditation tips for traveling.
4. Get Silly
Meditation not your thing? There are goofier ways to de-stress that may land you at the kids’ table. Try laughing. Even if you’re faking it at first, the physical act of laughing will trigger the release of endorphins. Here are 10 ways to lighten up and laugh.) Other ways to combat stress while winning the Most Fun Relative Award include creating a gibberish language, blowing up a balloon, banging on drums and simply playing.
5. Say No!
If you’re feeling bombarded, step back and figure out which holiday tasks you can simplify or even skip. Do you really need to attend every single holiday party you were invited to? Don’t be afraid to politely decline a gathering to draw a bubble bath and catch up on “Scandal.” And do you absolutely have to home-bake 40-something holiday treats for your kid’s class? Save your sanity and buy premade goodies instead.
6. Speaking of Skipping, Forget the Holiday Cards
Yet to send your season’s greetings? There are only so many business days left to send your cards, and while this task may seem like a relatively simple one, remember that you’ve got to buy the cards, update your addresses, write them and perhaps make a post office run. You’ve likely got enough on your plate for now, so push this job to February, and send valentines.
7. Share the Land
If you’re going to be the stress-free Ruler of the Holidays, you’ll need to delegate. Similar to how you’ve decided to nix certain tasks and set realistic expectations, consider handing off duties to volunteers. Make your holiday dinner a potluck. Assign your kids to gift-wrapping duty. Ask your significant other (lovingly) to help you run a few errands.
8. Manage friends and family
In a perfect world, the almighty holiday spirit would resurrect burned bridges, reverse hard feelings and fill your family with enough merriness to fuel Santa’s sleigh. But we’re not expecting perfection, remember? Realistically, which family member is going to stress you out? Keep your distance from him or her, if possible. If you find yourself about to snap, excuse yourself from the situation for the restroom. Even a short break can keep you from saying something not-so-jolly.
9. Make a plan for holiday spending
What’s more stressful than fighting your way through a mall in December? Perhaps seeing your credit card bill in January. Don’t start the new year regretting last year’s spending. Create a budget for holiday spending, leave the plastic at home, and take only the amount of cash you can afford to spend at the stores. Shop when you’re feeling refreshed or go the homemade (read: cheaper) gift route.
10. Give Back
Buy a latte for the person behind you in the coffee shop. Volunteer at a nursing home. It’s the season of giving and giving can take forms other than a mountain of presents under the tree. Perform good deeds for people who are less fortunate, strangers, neighbors or whomever. You’ll feel better for it and perhaps gain some perspective on your stress.