Avoiding holiday stress this holiday season is a stressful one for most everyone. There’s pressure to create the “perfect” holiday, while somehow keeping your sanity. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season, combined with travel, financial struggles, and family issues can be enough to make anyone want to throw in the towel. It’s impossible to avoid the holiday stress completely, but you can minimize it by following some of our simple tips.
Make a List and Check it Twice
Old St. Nick has the right idea. To make sure all your holiday tasks get accomplished sit down and make a list of all the things that need to be done. Include sub lists of gifts you need to purchase, special holiday food items you’ll need and the names of your Christmas card recipients. The more organized you can keep yourself the lesser the chances something will get overlooked—which will just compound your stress. Lists are an excellent way to keep track of everything, without relying on your over stressed brain.
Another option is to look outside the home for holiday help. Friends or other family members will be going through the same holiday chaos you are so team up with them. Offer to watch any younger children for them while they do their Christmas shopping. While you have the kids get them all involved in a Christmas related task such as helping to bake cookies. Bake enough for your family and the family of your friend or relative. Now switch roles and get your shopping done while the other person takes in your children and helps get some of your baking done. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Before you purchase a single gift, your first task should be to set a holiday spending budget. Then do the best you can to stick to it. There’s nothing more stressful than going into serious debt due to wild spending habits so make a solid commitment to stick within your means. If this means small gifts, homemade gifts, or down-sizing your gift list, so be it! You don’t want to be juggling credit card bills come January.
While the children of your household will likely have a Christmas wish list as long as your arm there’s nothing wrong with limiting the amount of presents under the tree. Explain to older children that while an idea list is perfectly fine they shouldn’t expect to unwrap every new toy that’s come onto the market since last Christmas. Kids often don’t have a concept of just how much their wish list costs and those asking for presents from Santa will think those toys are free. Explain to them that even Santa has a limit, whether you choose to use space or budget, and that they’ll have to keep their expectations realistic.
Avoid Playing Family Feud
Often times dealing with family dynamics is the most stressful holiday task of them all. When getting together with family don’t pick those times to bring up or deal with past issues. While some members of your family may drive you crazy take a deep breath and try to let it slide. If there are certain family members that are nearly unbearable it’s usually best to limit the time spent with them. This may mean re-evaluating whether or not you really need to spend every Christmas with them or if you can get away with alternating between them and others whose company you really enjoy.
Take Time for Yourself
Don’t be afraid to set some time aside just for you. Those who have children can pick an evening and make it a “date night”. You can choose to spend this night anyway you wish whether that means getting a babysitter and having a nice night out or putting the kids to bed early and just spending some quiet time together at home.
By planning ahead, shopping smart, minimizing family struggles, and taking time for yourself, you can manage your stress this holiday season. After the holidays are over, take notes of what worked for you this year, as well as what didn’t. you’ll be able to apply the lessons learned next year, and hopefully have an even saner holiday!