Here they come, barging through your front door with forced entry…the holidays! Don’t get me wrong, I am a sucker for a good hot cup of cocoa with a sappy holiday movie and little lights twinkling in the dark, BUT along with all the feel goods of the season, comes a lot of stress. Over the years, I have learned little tips and tricks to help ease the panic and stress of the holiday rush. Even if you don’t’ have a lot to do…it seems everyone around you does and we still somehow absorb THAT stress! Here are my top tips for avoiding the stress of the holidays!
1. Don’t strive for perfection. I take this phrase to heart and I have learned over the years to let it go. Even when I am teaching my group classes I reiterate “focus on progress, not perfection” and the same holds true with the holidays. I always wanted it to be perfect with my kids but they are KIDS and they just want to feel and experience the magic. They don’t care about the perfect Santa photo with the perfect matching outfits next to the perfectly assembled gingerbread house. By striving to achieve this vision of perfection, I am doing nothing but stressing out myself, my kids, and my family. Then if it’s not perfect, I have failed. Blah! Embrace the imperfections and events will be much more enjoyable! Trust me, I know full well that my kids will look at the Thanksgiving dinner and basically eat a roll, an olive, some pie and then ask me for macaroni and cheese. To THEM….that IS perfection!
2. BE KIND. The lines are long, the traffic is unbearable, and the days are short. We are all dealing with one stressor or another and while we want to let it all out on the person who clearly saw your blinker yet proceeded to steal your spot anyway, pause, breathe and just remember that they too may be under a lot of stress. Think about the chain reaction if you simply threw them a wave when they were expecting a much different hand gesture, they (hopefully) will take that moment and pay it forward. In a world where everyone seems angry, just be kind. You will feel better, less stressed and it will spread.
3. Plan. Yes, this is a tough one for some people and I get it. I NEVERused to be a planner and time after time I told myself, I’ll be better next year. Until one night when my husband and I were literally wrapping Christmas presents at 1am Christmas morning. The time from black Friday to Christmas morning had slipped away and had literally passed in the blink of an eye. Now, I plan. I carve out time early in December to take care of the little things, the things that inevitably creep up on you and rob you of your time. Plan for the extra time you will need for shopping and errands and parties and last minute guests. Plan for it all. You’ll never be 100% ready for it all so if you take care of small things along the way it will ease your stress dramatically for the bigger things that are headed straight for you!
4. Think Moderation. I had a college professor who ended every class by dismissing us with the phrase “remember moderation” Little did I know what a huge impact that phrase would have on my entire life. It especially holds true around the holidays. Eating and drinking is a huge part of every celebration it seems but both done in excess can make you feel weighted down, guilty, and depressed. That certainly won’t destress you. Other things that you need to work in moderation include, spending, shopping, and overbooking yourself!
5. Routine. STICK TO IT. If you have a routine that you are in now, breaking it entirely will just add to your stress. The holidays are busy so it goes without saying that your routine will be a bit strained, but don’t let all of the holiday craziness pull you from what you need. Exercise, plan your meals, and set aside alone time and family time. This may be shortened versions of what you normally do but it still resembles the general routine you follow on a daily and weekly basis. Throwing a wrench in it all will just add to your stress.
My bonus and personal favorite tip: Don’t talk politics, money or religion at the dinner table! That will automatically make stress levels rise!
From my family to yours, Happy Holidays!