7 Ways to Avoid Stress during the Holidays

7 Ways to Avoid Stress during the Holidays

By Sharon Hayes

Sadly, being fluffy isn’t enough to ward off holiday stress

The holidays are a wonderful time for most of us, but many of us find that they can represent a period of stress. We’ll be sharing with you some ideas on how to avoid (or at least minimize) stress during the upcoming holiday season.

1. Get Organized

One of the reasons we often feel stressed about the holidays is because we’re scrambling last minute, finding out we have conflicts in our schedule or there’s simply not enough time and money to cover everything we had planned on doing.
The best way to reduce stress is to be prepared. Try and set aside at least a couple hours of time focused on organizing yourself.

Here are the different things you’ll want to want to get organized:

a. Prepare a calendar of events and deadlines. Include on the calendar things like picking up dry cleaning, last minute fresh things needed and other items that are time-sensitive.
b. Prepare your gift lists with multiple ideas for each person and make note of any relevant information such as sizes, color preferences, music preferences, etc.
c. Work through your gift lists so that you can take fewer shopping trips and combine outings. Preferably, you’ll want to do as much shopping in advance as possible to avoid crowds and lines.
d. Prepare a (realistic) budget for both entertaining and gifts – and stick to it.
e. Go back to your calendar of events and decide what clothing you (and other family members, if relevant) will wear. If possible, put the outfits aside. Launder or dry clean whatever is necessary. If you find yourself in need of new outfits and are low on cash, consider doing a clothing swap with one or more friends.


2. Delegate & Pool Resources

Yes, many of us women want to act like a super hero and do everything themselves. But it’s really not necessary. Consider delegating and pooling resources where you can.

Here are some ideas:

a. If you have young children, consider asking a friend to swap babysitting nights or days with you so you can get your errands done faster. Shopping with friends can be more fun, but you may also find it taking much longer.
b. Consider swapping some of your gift shopping off with friends. Here’s an example: One of my friends has 2 teenagers who are into video games. She knows nothing about them. But she has a keen eye for fashion. She is swapping off shopping with another friend who is into video games herself but is clueless about fashion.
c. What can your spouse or partner and children do? Can they address the holiday cards? Can they do cleaning, laundry or other errands?
d. If you’re hosting an event for a large number of people, consider bucking the norm of you cooking everything and make it pot luck this year. You make the turkey and each guest is asked to bring something specific.


3. Focus On Your Health

It’s easy to neglect our health but during this busy time, it’s more important than ever to make sure we’re taking good care of ourselves.

Here are some important bases you’ll want to make sure you cover:

a. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. With all the running around, you may find yourself needing more sleep. Keep in mind that bumping up your sleep from 7 to 8 hours a night means that all of the other hours of the day will be that more productive for you.
b. Almost all of us associate the holidays with indulging in food. It’s okay to sample things but try not to overdo it. Make sure to get enough fresh fruits and vegetables in. All of this will help you avoid getting rundown.
c. Don’t neglect your workouts! Exercise is one of the best ways to keep stress under control. If you don’t have the time for your regular workouts, then at least get shorter ones in.
d. Remember to watch your alcohol intake. Alcohol is dehydrating. A glass of wine or a single cocktail is fine but over that and you may see negative effects, especially if you don’t normally imbibe.


4. Remember to Pamper Yourself


Pamper yourself until you reach your happy place

What? You already don’t know how you’ll get everything done that you need to and we’re suggesting you take some time out for you? Yes! In fact, we suggest for every 3 hours you spend on holiday preparations that you take 15-20 minutes out for you.

Here are some ideas:

a. Do you have a lot of parties and dinners to go to? Visit the hair salon now and get an easy hairdo.
b. Take a relaxing bubble bath or go for a massage each week.
c. Get a mani and pedi or do it yourself.
d. Want to kill two birds with one stone? Plan a girls night in with your best girlfriends where you can give each other spa treatments instead of your normal holiday dinner out with food and drinks.


5. Focus on the bigger picture

In all of this, remember to focus on the bigger picture. You don’t need to do everything and go everywhere.
Too often we feel that we have to say yes to every invitation. Remind yourself that it’s okay to say no and it’s actually a good thing for everyone to learn to do it more often.

I remember one Saturday before a Christmas where I was invited to a half a dozen different parties and dinners. I somehow managed making it to all of them and enjoyed none of them. My rule after became – one event per day or night. I’d pick the one most important to attend and politely decline the others.


6. Minimize conflicts
Very few families are perfect. Inevitably many of us will find ourselves dealing with conflict during the holidays.
Here are some ideas on how to minimize conflicts:

a. Some issues with family members and others will be repeat ones. Year after year, Uncle Charlie may drink one too many whiskeys. Aunt Emma and your mom may get into the squabbles over the same kinds of things every holiday. Reflect on past years and formulate a plan on how you’ll handle them this year.
b. It’s sometimes easy to get pulled into spats. Just avoid it, even if you agree with one of the sides.
c. Some people are just down and out troublemakers. It’s not just a possibility of what will go wrong with them around, but it’s a matter of how bad it will be. If you can manage to do so, try avoiding inviting these people to begin with.


7. Avoid the Holiday Hangover


Stress + lack of exercise = holiday hangover

Once the holidays are over, it can bring a whole new bunch of stress. Typically, many deal with the holiday hangover in two areas: finances and weight.

Here are some ideas on how to avoid the holiday hangover:

a. Financial. When it comes to finances, avoid using credit cards. Pay cash whenever possible. Don’t overspend and stick to your budget. If you are having a difficult time finding a gift for someone within your budget, get them a gift card instead.

b. Weight. It’s not uncommon for many people to gain 5 to 10 pounds during the holidays, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Make sure you get enough sleep, don’t neglect your workouts, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and don’t overdo food and alcohol.


Have tips of your own to share with other readers on avoiding the holiday stress? Leave a comment below!

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  1. I’m not fat, I’m fluffy! :-) Thank you Sharon!

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