We all love the holiday season. It’s filled with festivities, food, family and friends—and sometimes stress. The good news is that you can enjoy all of the good things that the holidays bring without the stress. But how? We have ten helpful tips that will keep the stress at bay so you can focus on all of the joys of the holiday season without feeling drained, depleted and overwhelmed. Try these and let us know how they work for you.
1. Be realistic and don’t expect perfection.
The first step in eliminating stress over the holidays is to expect the unexpected. Don’t set yourself up for failure by expecting everything to be perfect and to go exactly as planned. Instead, be realistic and mentally prepared for a few bumps in the road, but keep focused on what really matters and don’t sweat the small stuff. Any glitches that happen won’t likely be remembered a year from now, so don’t let them ruin your mood. Keep your perspective and you’ll keep your sanity, too.
2. Drop the most stressful parts of your holiday.
If there’s a particularly stressful task that you dread every time the holiday rolls around, then let it go if at all possible. Is it something you have to do? Is there anyway you can modify it to make it less stressful for you? Can someone help you? Can someone else in your family take on the task? Find a way to make that stressful task less cumbersome or find a better option—and if you can’t, then drop it.
3. Give more experiences, less gifts.
Giving the gift of time together and special experiences are more meaningful than a wrapped gift more often than not. Don’t get overwhelmed with the stress of shopping, buying and wrapping presents for everyone on your list. A girl’s day out, a holiday show, or a special breakfast at your favorite local spot are oftentimes more meaningful and more memorable than any gift you could wrap.
4. Carve out time for yourself.
It is so easy to fill up all of your time with things to do, holiday planning and preparation, family visits and dinners, and all the other things that are part of the holiday season. Your schedule will quickly fill up if you let it. Before that happens, be sure to carve out some time for yourself before it’s too late and you’re overbooked. Pencil it in to your calendar if you have to. This is your holiday too and relaxation, rest and rejuvenation should be part of the package. Whether it’s a morning where you have nothing planned to do whatever you please, a daily walk to clear your head, or an afternoon spa session as a gift to yourself, find a way to have some downtime during this busy season. You’ll be more relaxed, in better spirits and able to give more to others.
5. Know when to say no.
It’s easy to feel obligated to say yes to everything you’re invited to during the holidays. Of course you want to spend time and celebrate with as many of your friends and family as you can, but is it realistic to try to? Probably not. You may have to be selective and say no to some invitations, and that’s okay. Sometimes you have to choose quality time over quantity.
6. Take the pressure off.
Now is not the time to go over the top on everything you do. Instead of planning to try a host of new recipes for your holiday meal, use the ones that are tried-and-true. Forego the visions of the perfectly iced and immaculately decorated gingerbread village that you want to create with your kids and choose something more doable and less demanding. Don’t set your expectations so high that you set yourself up for disappointment. Don’t fall into the mindset that everything has to be bigger and better this year. Focus on what really matters and don’t get caught up in all the holiday craziness and the unrealistic expectations of perfection.
7. Thing big picture.
Look ahead and envision what you want the holiday to be like. Focus on those things. Push away the minor annoyances and brush aside the little problems and choose to focus on the big picture. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the minutia that can drain you, overwhelm you and rob you of joy. Find gratitude in what you have and don’t dwell on the little things that don’t really matter. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but if you go into the holidays mindfully and with the right purpose, you’ll be prepared to celebrate all the good and let the not-so-good roll right off your back.
8. Find calm and hold on it to for a while.
Sometimes you have to find a little bit of calm in the midst of the holiday storm. Search it out and grab hold of it! Take a moment to really savor that bite of your favorite holiday side dish. Sip that wine slowly. Take a good look at that finely decorated Christmas tree you toiled over. Capture a mental a picture of your family sitting around your living room and sharing these special but fleeting moments. This is the good stuff!
9. Have fun and keep a sense of humor.
A sense of humor is one of your best defenses when it comes to managing stress. Keep a lighthearted perspective whenever possible and you’ll keep your stress levels at bay. Find humor in the things that go wrong and laugh them off rather than dwelling on them. Give yourself permission to forget the mistakes and focus on the things that went right. There are always more things that go right than go wrong.
10. Don’t do “all the things”.
No you don’t have to do “all the things”! You can whittle back your to-do list. You can ask for help. You can delegate tasks to others. You can say no. You indeed can enjoy the holiday season with little to no stress. After all, ultimately you get to decide what to do and what not to do—and what your attitude will be. Choose wisely and you’re sure to have the best holiday season ever. Cheers!
These are our top 10 tips for a stress-free holiday season. What are yours?