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The Holidays are a time for love, laughter, and joy. It’s a time to create memories and honor age-old traditions. We look forward to everything the season brings, from the sights, sounds, and foods to spending time with loved ones.
Everything about the Holidays sounds magical but the reality is it also brings with them a lot of stress. This can be caused due to a number of reasons from financial constraints and gift shopping to party planning and just having too much to do overall.
A little bit of stress may be unavoidable but too much can dampen the mood and ruin the season for you. Fortunately, there are ways you can reduce the overwhelm and enjoy a wonderful, stress-free Holiday season.
20 Effective Ways To Reduce Holiday Stress And Enjoy The Season
1. Plan Ahead
Planning ahead is the single best thing you can do to enjoy a stress-free Holiday season. With everything planned in advance, you have ample time to tick things off your to-do list.
Get started on buying or making your Christmas presents extra early, so you aren’t in a rush. Besides, you may be able to snag some great deals and save money too.
Are you hosting Christmas lunch? Plan your menu and your guest list in advance and buy all ingredients ahead of time. Completing basic tasks early will give you time to relax before the festivities begin.
Trying to memorize everything is a recipe for increasing your stress. Use a planner designed for Christmas planning. This Christmas Project Planner will help you stay super-organized and stress-free as you make and execute your Holiday plans.
2. Set a Budget
One of the biggest stress factors during the Holidays is related to money. This can be the most expensive time of the year. Your bank balance can dwindle far too quickly as you go through your list of things to buy, from gifts and food, to decorations and maybe travel too. The thought of starting the New Year in debt can add to the stress.
Setting a budget is the key to enjoying a stress-free Holiday season and starting the New Year debt-free. Make a list of everything you need to buy and allocate a budget for each item.
The idea behind creating a budget is to make sure you have enough in your savings account to pay off your credit card at the end of the month. Do NOT get into credit card debt. The high penalty and interest are not worth it.
If you want to give everyone on your list a gift but can’t afford it, consider homemade gifts. If you start early, you’ll have plenty of time to make lots of amazing gifts and you’ll save money too!
3. Ditch The Perfection – Aim For Fun Instead
Are you a perfectionist in everything you do? Do you want your cookies, decorations and everything else to be picture perfect?
Striving for 100% perfection is a surefire recipe for stress. It’s impossible to avoid being stressed when you want everything to be perfect.
If you want to enjoy a truly stress-free Holiday season, ditch the perfection. Focus on fun instead.
Believe me, in a few months, nobody not even you will remember how things looked. What everyone will remember for years to come is how much fun all of you had together.
4. Delegate Tasks
Planning on doing it all yourself? That’s a really bad idea. There are so many things to plan and do, it’s impossible for one person to do it all and not get exhausted and overwhelmed.
You know your limits. You know how much time you have on your hands and what you can and cannot do. It’s not just the time factor. There may be some things that may be beyond your capabilities.
Know that it’s okay to not be able to do some things. No one is super-human. It’s okay to ask for help. Knowing your limits actually will empower you! It’ll help you not get burnt out and help keep the happy holiday spirit.
Decide what tasks you can do and what you should delegate. For example, you could design the invitations yourself, but get someone else to mail them out.
If you’re doing all the baking, delegate the shopping to another family member.
If you’re doing the cooking, somebody else can help with doing the prep work such as cutting the vegetables.
You’ll find that everyone will actually appreciate being part of the preparations.
6. Make Detailed Lists For People You Are Delegating To
You’ve made the plans yourself and you know what you need to bring your vision to life. To ensure that it comes to fruition the way you envisioned, you must be very specific when delegating your tasks.
For example, let’s say you want baking ingredients from a particular brand that you always use. The person you’re delegating the shopping to may not know this.
When writing out your shopping list, make sure to specify the brand against each item. If something comes in various sizes, write down the size you want so you don’t end up with too much or too little.
Give them as much information as you can with detailed lists of the things they need to get done or buy. Check in with them occasionally so if they run out of time or get confused, you can handle it before it turns into a stressful situation.
7. Schedule Your Days
Time really does fly. It may seem like you have lots of time but before you know it, there’s just a couple of days left and you still have tons to do. Scheduling your days will help you manage your time better and lay the foundation for a stress-free Holiday season.
Start by making a detailed to-do list of everything that needs to be done. Ideally, you want to do this well in advance so you can space out the tasks.
Now that you know what you need done, schedule each of the tasks using a planner or calendar. Schedule things like gift shopping during the early days so you can tick that off your list. Buy dry groceries in advance but leave the fresh produce for later.
Make sure to leave room for quality time to yourself and time with your family, while working around other pre-schedule appointments. With this schedule, you know what to expect each day without worrying that you may be forgetting something.
Part of managing your time is not taking on too much, so it is also important to know when you are stretching yourself a little too thin. By scheduling tasks in advance, you’ll be able to do it all over a period of time without the last-minute stress.
8. Get More Shopping Done At Once Place
Go through your list of things to buy. Group those items that you know you can get at one store or in one area and buy them all during one shopping trip. This way you’ll avoid multiple trips to the same store and you’ll stand in those frustratingly long queues fewer times.
Do you know a box store that carries several of the items on your shopping list? Make a list of all those items and get it all done in a single shopping trip. You’ll save time and money too.
If you’re doing your shopping online, make sure to place all orders well in time. This is the busiest time of the year for the post office and couriers. As it gets closer to Christmas, delivery times keep getting longer.
Grouping your shopping in this way will cut down your shopping time and your stress levels considerably.
9. Use a Journal to Identify Your Stress Triggers
Everyone stresses over different things. For some it might be their financial situation, for others, it may just be the struggle to juggle so many different things single-handedly.
A big part of reducing holiday stress is figuring out what is causing the stress in the first place. Writing down your thoughts and struggles in a journal can help you identify your stress triggers.
It’s only when you know what’s causing you to feel overwhelmed that you can take steps to resolve it.
Write in the journal every day. Look for commonalities on days when you feel unusually stressed. Re-read your entries and identify situations that seem similar on stressful days. This might be when you had to go shopping, when you had to deal with a certain person, or on days when you simply had too much to do and it overwhelmed you.
Simply writing out what you did each day and things that bothered you can also help you release the negative emotions you’ve built up.
10. Maintain A Healthy Diet
Holiday stress may not be completely avoidable, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help keep it under control. Stress eating and binge-watching Netflix will only make you feel guilty and miserable. Worse still, you’ll end up having to get it all done last minute.
Maintain a healthy diet in the lead-up to your big Christmas lunch. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet will help your body and brain stay healthier and happier.
As an added perk, when the time comes, you’ll be able to enjoy all those delicious Christmas goodies without feeling guilty.
11. Get Enough Sleep
I speak from experience when I say that getting enough sleep is crucial even when it feels like you just don’t have the time to sleep. In fact, it’s more important than ever when you have a lot going on.
Sleep and stress are very closely correlated. The less sleep you get, the more stressed you’re likely to be. Sleep deficit is real! You never know when that sleep deprivation will catch up with you causing you to crash out at the most inopportune moment.
Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Diffuse essential oils for sleep around bedtime to help get your body into slumber mode. Listen to soft music if that’s what helps you unwind.
12. Say No If You Need To
With so much on your own plate, there will be times when you can’t possibly take on any more. As difficult as it may be for you, there are times when you just have to say no.
Whether it is lack of time, lack of finances, or something else, be honest about your reasons for turning it down.
If you can, offer to help with smaller tasks that you know you can manage. If you just can’t fit any more into your schedule, suggest other options. Brainstorm with the other person to find other workable alternatives. Taking a few minutes to do this is much better than saying yes and getting overly stressed that you did.
13. Practice Relaxation Techniques
If you start to feel engulfed by persistent stress, it may be time to practice relaxation techniques to keep those stress levels down. This can take different forms for different people.
Try art therapy if the creative process relaxes you. Creating art is a great (and free) form of therapy! Watercolor, paint, or create just about anything for a few minutes every day to reduce Holiday stress.
Spend a few minutes any time during the day to just sit still and focus on your breathing. Put on meditation music or listen to meditation guidelines if it helps.
You’ll find lots more relaxation techniques here.
14. Take Time For Yourself
We could all use a little more self-care, especially during the holiday season. So often we’re so focused on our to-do lists we forget to take care of ourselves. The truth is you can’t really help anyone else when you’re feeling exhausted and burnt out yourself.
So go out and pamper yourself; you deserve it! Schedule in time for yourself, so you don’t forget. It is and should always be a priority. Sometimes, all it takes to reduce Holiday stress is to take a little bit of time each day where you can put the planning, shopping, and other craziness aside and just focus on yourself.
This can be as simple as soaking in a warm aromatherapy bath at least once a week or sipping a glass of wine on your patio when the kids are asleep.
Book tickets for a show or movie with a family member or friend. Spend an evening with a girlfriend at happy hour and promise not to talk about Thanksgiving or Christmas even once.
These moments are precious, but they won’t come automatically. Sometimes you need to put them in your schedule.
A big part of your self-care routine is getting help with at least some of your tasks so do it!
15. Use Aromatherapy For Stress Relief
Diffusing relaxing essential oils can do a lot to help you feel more relaxed when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
If you don’t have a diffuser, here are 25 ways to get the benefits of relaxing essential oils without using a diffuser.
As you inhale the vapors of relaxing essential oils, you’ll find the stress slowly dissipating.
16. Practice Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness is the perfect way to help lower your stress every single day.
Focus on your breathing and try to tune everything else out. If you have thoughts about things you have to do, simply allow them and return to focusing on your breath.
If you’re just beginning, start with just five minutes every day. Then, you can slowly work your way up.
17. Express Gratitude
Expressing gratitude is a lovely way to enjoy a stress-free Holiday season. In fact, I’m sure this is why we celebrate Thanksgiving right before Christmas.
No matter how stressful things get, there are always some things that work out well.
Keep a gratitude journal and write down three things you’re grateful for during that day. On stressful days, open up your journal and read through your previous entries.
Or keep a gratitude jar. Write down what you’re grateful for on a piece of paper and drop it into the jar. On stressful days, open the jar, pick any piece of paper and read what you wrote.
Reading through your gratitude notes serves as a reminder of the many things that are working for you and takes the edge off the stress. Staying focused on what you have and what you’ve achieved is a proven stress-relief strategy.
This One-Minute Gratitude Journal will take just one minute of your time to write in and will make a world of a difference in reducing Holiday stress.
This may seem like a strange way to reduce Holiday stress when it’s your already packed schedule that’s causing you stress in the first place.
The fact is giving helps take burdens off yourself. When you volunteer or help those in need, it brings peace and joy to your heart you can’t find anywhere else.
You don’t have to spend months, weeks or even days volunteering. There are so many opportunities to volunteer, especially during the holidays. And they won’t take up much of your time.
Here are a few places where you can volunteer your time or money this year:
● Toys for Tots
● Gift Wrapping
● Food Banks
● Operation Santa
Choose one or two organizations that are close to your heart and do what you can. Take on only what you can without stressing yourself further. When it comes to volunteering, every little bit helps and sometimes, all that’s needed is for everyone to do just a little.
19. Step Outdoors
Dealing with all things Holidays can be a sensory overload. It’s only natural to start feeling overwhelmed and stressed when surrounded by the sights, sounds, and smells of Christmas 24/7.
Just stepping outside and spending some time outdoors can feel refreshing and energizing. Sure it’s cold but don’t let that be an excuse for not getting out. Wrap up warmly and go for a brisk walk or even a stroll outdoors.
The peaceful sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors have a way of melting away your stress and replacing it with a sense of peace and calm.
If you can, schedule your outdoor time for when the sun is out. Getting some sun exposure can do much to life your spirits, boost your serotonin levels, and energize you.
I almost didn’t add this only because I’m not a big fan of exercising, but once I get started, I remember why it’s so important.
Even if it’s only a few minutes a day, try to get an exercise routine going. It can be a class, a video, or just a brisk walk- anything that gets your body moving and your blood flowing will be a huge help in relieving stress.
Exercising provides multiple benefits. It uplifts your mood by releasing endorphins. It makes you feel better about yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.
There you have it – 20 easy-to-do tips to enjoy a stress-free Holiday season. Remember, you don’t have to do it all. Pick and choose what works for you and focus on those strategies to reduce Holiday stress and fill the season with much joy and cheer instead.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using any natural medication or if you experience any unusual symptoms. See Full Disclaimer here.