9 Tips for A Less Stressful Holiday Season

The holidays are fast approaching. Right now, you probably have a to-do list a mile long and a shopping list that's even longer. You’ve got to shop for gifts, bake cookies, and figure out how to keep your family from fighting at the dinner table. Plus, you still have to decorate and put up the tree with those lights. Not to mention the wrestling match you'll need to have to get them untangled before they go on the tree. And on top of it all, you still have to manage your normal everyday work and family life without going insane.
Feeling stressed yet? Relax and take a deep breath. There are plenty of ways you can lighten your load and have a jolly holiday. Here are just a few ways you can make this holiday season far less stressful.

Make a Budget

Get ahead of the holiday spending by making a budget plan. Take care of all your regular bills and other household expenses first before making travel plans, doing any gift buying, or entertaining guests. Then prioritize whatever is left towards the holiday season. Fight temptation by limiting access to stores and leave your credit card at home. By carrying only the cash you can afford to spend, you won’t impulsively rack up debt that will make you even more stressed out.

Practice Mindfulness

The holidays can quickly devolve into "all about money," but taking the time to be grateful for what you have can help ease that feeling. And mindfulness doesn't stop with expressing gratitude, either. It involves self-love, too. So if you're one of the 90% of women or 10% of men who are living with dimply thighs, take some time to think on just how far those muscles have carried you. Gratitude for yourself is just as important as gratitude for others during the holiday season. The key is being intentional with both your thoughts and your actions.

Set Realistic Expectations for Children

Parents can feel pressure from their kids to deliver the perfect presents. They are aware of what their friends get and can get caught up in not being outdone, so to speak. Have your child create a wishlist of any desired gifts and then have a conversation with them. Tell them that they won’t be able to get everything they want but point out items that are unacceptable or unobtainable. Remind them that the true meaning of Christmas is more about spending time together as a family rather than just getting gifts. That mindfulness practice can really come in handy.

Take a Break!

When you're feeling overwhelmed, it's a sign that you need to take a time out. Delegate some of the tasks on your list and indulge in some self-care. Considering that stress during the holidays on top of the winter weather can weaken your immune system, make sure you find time to recharge. An estimated 710,000 flu-related hospitalizations have occurred since 2010. And the flu is the last thing you want during the holidays. Find some activities that will help you rest up such as reading a book, getting a massage, or listening to some music. Get some fresh air and a fresh perspective by taking a walk down the street or a hike in nature. Don’t forget to let loose and have some fun, either. Laughter is some of the best medicine for fighting stress, after all. Enjoy some fun activities and crack jokes with family and friends. Put away your to-do list from time to time and relax.

Play With Your Pets

Wear out your puppy before guests arrive with a long walk or some outdoor playtime. This will help minimize stressful chaos by preventing your dog from barking at and tackling guests as they arrive. Make sure they have plenty of treats and toys to keep them occupied. Not only that, but spending time with your pets is an excellent stress reliever. So the next time you're dreading a walk with the dog, consider that it just might help you feel a little bit more relaxed.

Limit Holiday Travel and Stay Home

Perhaps things are a bit too chaotic at home for you right now. Making travel plans doesn’t seem possible because you just had a new baby or you have a deadline at work. If most of your family lives in another state, be honest and let them know you won’t be able to make it this year. Come up with other ways to be with them during the holidays such as video calling instead. Limit any activities that may be optional as well. Set limits on holiday party events that you will go to. If there is a way to say no gracefully, do it. Give yourself some space to breathe by focusing on the holiday activities that are most important to you and your immediate family.

Relieve Work Stress

Approximately 51% of employees give stress as a reason they are less productive while at work. The holiday season definitely doesn’t help this fact. Reduce stress by using any accrued vacation time and saying no to coworkers' requests to take extra shifts for them. Remember that you're human too and that you deserve to take a break every once in a while. This time of year is about resting and spending time with loved ones. Don't let work get in the way of that!

Sleep Away Your Stress

Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for reducing stress and improving overall mood. It is all too easy to want to skimp on sleep because you have so much going on. But you are doing yourself a disservice. Make it a goal to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Take a hot shower and turn all electronics off at least 30 minutes before going to bed.

Get Ahead of Gift Wrapping

Instead of waiting until the last minute to wrap all the presents, set aside an hour each night to save yourself some stress. Make it fun by playing some music or enjoying a nice glass of wine. This can be tricky if you have small kids at home, so wait until they are asleep and lock your bedroom door if you have to. Better yet, use those gift wrapping services at the mall or hire someone else to do it.
Using some of these tips, you'll hopefully be able to truly enjoy this holiday season without wanting to pull your hair out. Remember, it’s not about being perfect or cramming in as much as you can. It’s about focusing on what’s truly important: spending quality time with your family and friends. Enjoy every single moment and make this holiday season the merriest one yet!

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"Pleasant words are as a honeycomb: sweet to the soul and health to the bones." Proverbs 16:24