The holiday season is a special time of year, but for some, it can bring on stress rather than a peaceful feeling. Juggling holiday shopping, baking, and decorating while still dealing with everyday demands can leave many people - women especially - feeling frazzled and exhausted and even battling a case of the holiday blues. But, according to everydayhealth.com, it doesn’t have to be that way. Following a few simple tips can help put the “happy” back in the holidays.
Stick to a Budget
Not surprisingly, one of the leading causes of holiday stress is money. In these tough times, many people have a tighter holiday budget than usual. Set a spending limit and stick to it. Creating a mountain of holiday debt will only stretch holiday stress into the New Year. Instead of buying expensive gifts, go for something more personal, like a beautiful framed photo.
Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable. Instead of trying to create the “perfect” holiday, strive for one that is relaxing and fun. If there are a thousand things on your to-do list, but only time for a few of them, decide what’s really important to you and your family and cross off everything else. If mailing out greeting cards before the holidays seems next to impossible, consider sending out New Year’s greetings instead.
Plan and Delegate
Make a list of the most important holiday tasks and the date by which they need to be completed. Do a little work every day and don’t procrastinate. Delegate some of the work to other family members. For instance, if you are
hosting the holiday dinner, ask everyone to bring a dish and have the kids set the table or fill the water glasses.
Learn to Say 'No'
If too many holiday invitations are arriving, politely decline the ones that are less important to you. Overscheduling at this time of year will only adds to holiday stress. Explain to children that they can’t do everything either. Together, choose activities that you really want to do. Try to keep meal schedules and bedtimes for children as normal as possible, since disruptions can be hard on everyone.
Take Time to Relax
Holiday stress can take a toll on your health, so it’s important to take a break from the hustle and bustle and relax for a few minutes (or more if you need it). Read a book. Sip a soothing cup of tea. Treat yourself to a massage or a bubble bath. Take a power nap or just close your eyes and breathe deep. Recharging your batteries will do you a world of good.
Take Care of Yourself
Don’t throw healthy living out the window just because it’s holiday time. Getting regular exercise will fight holiday weight gain and help elevate your mood, chasing away those holiday blues. Try to limit calorie-laden holiday treats, and choose nutritious snacks and meals instead. Don’t drink too much alcohol. And make sure you’re getting enough sleep - being exhausted will only add to holiday stress.
Don’t Force It
Even though it’s the holiday season, you may not be feeling much joy due to other circumstances in your life, such as a job loss, divorce, or recent death in the family. If you are facing the holiday blues for whatever reason, talk to a trusted friend or clergy member who can lend a sympathetic ear and may be able to give you a more positive outlook. Seek professional help if depression gets serious.
Give to Others
Giving of yourself may be the best gift you can give others and yourself as well. Consider volunteering at a homeless shelter or visiting patients at a hospital or nursing home. Instead of buying Aunt Susan a gift, donate money to her favorite charity. These are great ways to slow down and count your blessings. Your generosity can also show your kids that the holidays aren’t just about presents and parties.
Make Family Celebrations Peaceful
If you’re having a big family get-together, don’t use the celebration to try to clear up unresolved conflicts. Have everyone agree ahead of time to stay away from hot topics like politics or religion. Keep the group active to minimize downtime. Perhaps everyone would enjoy a holiday concert, sporting event, or religious service. If you are going to be a guest in someone’s home, plan a shorter stay if you think the visit may get too stressful.
Enjoy the Simple Things
At holiday time, some of the best things in life are truly free or at least inexpensive. Bundle up the family and walk through your neighborhood to check out the holiday lights. Reconnect with your faith and attend religious services. Read some favorite holiday stories to the kids. Most of all, stay positive, try not to sweat the small stuff, and enjoy this special time of year.