12 tips to steer clear of holiday stress

Like some of you, I spent the past week end in a race with time, playing catch-up and trying to complete all the holiday gift shopping, baking, and house decorating.

Since the holidays are knocking at the door and stress levels might be rising for those still not finished with all the pre-holiday chores, I asked a business/life coach friend for ideas on how to sidestep the stressors and cope with the dizzying array of holiday demands. Here are some of her suggestions:

  • Acknowledge your feelings. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. No need to feel guilty for saying “No!” when you’re already overbooked. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and even more overwhelmed.
  • Set a sensible schedule. Don’t let others pull you into things you really don’t need to be part of. If it seems like there’s not enough time to do everything you had on your list, pare the list down to only those things that are doable.
  • Reward yourself. Some alone time might be just the ticket to ease the stress. Even 20 minutes in private with no obligations staring you in the face can be blissful.
  • Forget perfection. I have a few personal and business friends for whom perfection is a must. According to my “expert,” perfection wreaks havoc with us when things go wrong and there’s no time for re-dos.
  • You don’t have to buy the perfect presents for everyone.
  • It’s okay if some family traditions fall through the cracks.
  • Be mindful. Mindfulness, the practice of focusing on and appreciating the present moment, can actually stop the stress — at least for the moment.
  • Reach out. Ask for help and don’t try to do everything by yourself. Others may just be waiting to be asked, and this might start a new tradition of sharing the good times.
  • Be realistic. As we grow and change, we’re allowed to change things up.
  • Stick to your budget. When we’re rushed at the last minute — trying to get that “perfect” gift and not just “settling” — it’s important to still keep the budget in mind. Gift buyer’s remorse can last a long time.
  • Keep up healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays frazzle you to the point of going overboard at parties and get-togethers.
  • Plan ahead for next year now. Don’t let the holidays become something you dread. With some planning early in the game for next year, you can have peace and joy during the entire holiday season.

I am not one of those people who begin Christmas shopping in midsummer and have everything wrapped and ready to go before Thanksgiving. I’m also not an early baker. This past weekend my husband, Dave, and I spent a whole day making our family’s traditional Christmas stollen. I’ve now alerted everyone that this time was the last time — but I’ll gladly share the recipe so others can enjoy the feel of the dough being kneaded.

Happy holidays to all!

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