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12 Tips On Reducing Holiday Stress

Written by Mindy White

Photography by Image via Huffington Post

The crazy shopping lines and traffic. The holiday parties and fattening foods that we devour with guilt. The obligation to attend family events and volunteer, even though you’re swamped and exhausted. It all adds up, and for many of us, the holidays can actually be more stressful than they are fun. Most of that is due to the pressure that we unknowingly put on ourselves. That’s why we’ve gathered these 12 important tips for you to read and remember throughout the busy season.

1. Plan ahead. Get an early start on holiday shopping, so that you’re not caught in a tug-of-war match with another mom over this year’s most popular toy. Avoid the malls and shop online. With the sites and technology that we have at our finger tips, there’s no reason you can’t do most or all of your shopping behind your computer and avoid the long, frustrating lines. Wrap gifts immediately, or request for them to be gift wrapped upon purchasing. This way, you’re not left rushing to get them covered and you spend more time with your family on Christmas Eve. P.S. Make sure you label the gifts to avoid confusion on whose gift is whose!

2. Make a budget. Sit down and calculate exactly how much money you’re able to spend this year, and stick to it. Note how much you want to spend per person, and include gift ideas that fall under that amount. Having trouble finding a gift for the person who has everything? Think small and outside the “gift” box. Baked goods, gift baskets, or make a coupon book for your partner full of one-time vouchers for a relaxing foot massage, getting out of dish duty, etc. These homemade and unique ideas have a lot more meaning to them than a traditional gift.

3. Don’t feel the need to do it all. If you’re usually this type of person, change your mindset. Maybe you have holiday family or friend traditions that you do every year, but this time around, your schedule is just completely packed. Don’t stress about getting to them all. Choose a select few and roll with those. If you feel bad for not being able to attend certain parties or events due to schedules clashing, why not create your own tradition and invite those people over for a relaxing, stress-free pajamas-only night with holiday movies, cookies, and hot cocoa? (Spiked hot cocoa for the adults!) Kick back and take things slowly, so that you can enjoy your loved ones.

4. Travel smoothly. This is the time of the year when flights are sparse and tend to be delayed due to weather. Get to the airport early, pack simple, dress for comfort, bring snacks, and leave room in your suitcase for bringing back gifts. Road tripping? Check the vehicle before venturing out—the last thing you want is a flat tire in the freezing cold. Pack snacks and drinks for the drive, and toys or movies for the kiddos.

5. Ask for help. Have your partner pick up the groceries if you’re busy shopping for gifts. Have a strong neighbor help you hang the wreath. Let loved ones assist you at a get-together. Hosts tend to want to do everything themselves, but the truth is, it’s not humanly possible to stir the mashed potatoes while the cookies are burning, the holiday CD is skipping, and there’s more guests at the door. If relatives and friends ask what they can do to help, tell them! It’s not rude, it’s smart—and they’ll feel happy to be a part of the festivities.

6. Prioritize. With the craziness of the season, it’s easy to say “yes” to holidays invites. Make sure that you’re not planning too much, to where you’re rushing around the city like a late Santa Claus delivering gifts. Scheduling time with family and friends is most important, so make sure to put those events first, and plan around them. Almost everyone has a smartphone these days, and this holiday, your calendar is your best friend! Make sure to add all events the moment you sign up for them to avoid conflicting schedules. Don’t have a smartphone? Planners work, too!

7. Take care of yourself. It’s easy to get run-down during the holidays and not realize it until you’re falling asleep in the middle of aisle 3. Make sure you get plenty of rest by prioritizing, taking naps, and going to sleep early (when you can). Get outside and breathe the fresh cool air, stand in the sun for a vitamin D boost, or go for some light exercise to rejuvenate. Don’t skip regular workouts. Skipping just one can lead to skipping two, three, and so on, bringing guilt later on. Take your vitamins to keep your immune system in check, too. Schedule an alarm on your phone everyday to stop, breathe, and soak in the moment—smell the pine, light a candle, drink a holiday drink, and just be.

8. Express and encourage gratitude. With the hustle and bustle of the season, it’s easy to get stuck in the motion of things and forget what the holidays are all about. You know how crazy your schedule is, so remember that your friends and relatives are also taking the time to visit with you. Show genuine appreciation for their presence and kindness. Send cards to those who are far or couldn’t make it. Demonstrate giving back by taking the kids to volunteer or allowing them to help pick out gifts for a child or family in need.

9. Eat, drink, and be merry. With the sweets and the rich, indulgent foods that come with the holidays, it’s easy to splurge and blow your diet. No one is saying not to eat the cookies, just don’t have a whole plate if you’re going to have guilt later. Don’t kill yourself, either. One piece of pie isn’t going to make your jeans button pop. If you don’t have a little fun, you’ll spend the whole night staring at the table and lusting in sadness. Don’t drink too much. Everyone loves a good glass of eggnog or wine, but no one loves the drunk at the party—especially around the kids or grandparents.

10. Have patience. So, the cat keeps climbing up the Christmas tree, breaking ornaments, and is one step away from ending up like the cat from Christmas Vacation. Lock him or her up in a bedroom for the time being and laugh it off. Maybe there’s in-law drama. It happens to the best of us. Change the scenery with a game or movie to keep tension light. Don’t sweat the small stuff with the kids. They’re probably on a sugar-high and running through the house like they’re in a holiday 5K. Encourage them to go build a snowman, or play a game with the other children. Let them get the energy out of their system so they’ll be worn out later, just in time for bed!

11. Stay healthy. So many people get caught with a cold or flu over the holidays, mostly from letting themselves get run down and not pumping the vitamins. The season changes can cause allergy attacks, and packed stores, airplanes, and parties are all places that you’re bound to catch a cold. Eat right, drink a lot of water, dress warm, and take your vitamins. Stock up on essential oils for allergies and colds, and use them at any sight of a sniffle. Wash your hands more than normal, and teach your kids to wash theirs for the length of singing their ABC’s.

12. Have fun! Don’t fret if the family holiday cards don’t go out on time, if your eyes are closed in the family photo, or if the turkey is dry. Things happen. It’s the thought that counts, you gave your friends a laugh, and hey—there’s still ham and sides! Life isn’t perfect. No one is perfect—and honestly, that’s why your friends and relatives love you. Instead of stressing about the little things, laugh them off, and focus on what does go right: Your friends and family made it over safely, the house is warm and filled with love, and dang, that pie you made is good.

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