Holiday Stress Management 101

In Great Britain the word “holiday” has the same meaning as vacation. In North America, however, many of us find this comparison laughable as for most of us, the holidays come with our own “to-do” lists.

Too often we take holiday stress for granted. What’s worse, we often have higher expectations for this season than for any other time of the year. Planning for the holidays can leave us feeling impatient, cranky and frazzled. When the realities of day-to-day life conflict with our efforts to make the holiday season perfect, stress results.

Here are 5 tips to help you cope:

  1. Holiday shopping
  • Ask people what they want instead of scouring the earth to find the “perfect” gifts.
  • Stick to your gift budget.
  • Shop early, when there is more of a selection. Or shop online where you can avoid the crowds.
  • Remember it’s the thought that counts, and a simple gesture goes a long way. Many people appreciate
  • something small and festive, and it just says that you are thinking about them.
  • Buy certain things in bulk for easy gift giving.

2. Family get-togethers 

  • Buy some prepared foods, instead of cooking everything from scratch. My favorite ‘cheat’? A tasty dessert from a gourmet bakery.
  • Ask others to bring their favorite dishes.
  • Cook and freeze foods ahead of time.

3. Scheduling time with family and friends

  • Simplify holiday commitments and traditions. Discuss with your family which traditions are most important to you and do them. It’s okay to re-evaluate past traditions.
  • Allow time for yourself. Remember to do things that you enjoy. Read, take a bath. Go for a walk.
  • Avoid time crunches by making plans to visit some friends and family soon after the holidays.
  • Don’t over-schedule yourself. Allow enough time to relax and recover after visiting with others.
  • Tell family members about your commitments so you are not struggling against their expectations.
  • Travel after rush hour. When driving long distances, give yourself time to stop and rest.

4. Pausing before the holiday spread

  • Pace yourself when it comes to eating and drinking. There will be a lot and you definitely won’t miss out!
  • Avoid starving yourself in anticipation of eating at holiday parties. This approach leads to bad food choices.
  • Continue to exercise and watch your diet.

5. Managing your time

  • Set priorities and let go of impossible goals.
  • Stop to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
  • Don’t spend all your time planning activities for your family. You might end up feeling drained and unappreciated.
  • Take the time you need to finish tasks that are important to you. Don’t try to complete everything at once.
  • Ask others, including the kids, to help complete chores.
  • Rest when your body tells you to. Sometimes a 20-minute cat nap will do the trick, leaving you feeling energized.

When you’re busy it’s important that you schedule some “me” time to help you to reduce stress. A warm bath helps you relax and makes you happier! Add some scented oil or a nice bath bomb to the tub. Lavender or rose oil are great choices because of their relaxation effects. Epsom salts contain magnesium, which is soothing. Light a candle, close the door and enjoy the (brief) peace and quiet.

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