Increase the Holiday Spirit, Not the Stress
Increase the Holiday Spirit, Not the Stress
11/14/16 Laura Gibbons
If signs of the holidays are already making you sweat, take the time now to adopt a plan that will reduce the stress and highlight the spirit of the holidays. Here are some tips to get started.
Get a Handle on Your Biggest Holiday Stressors
Do you tend to overschedule, procrastinate, overspend, have unrealistic expectations, or eat way too many holiday cookies? List the things that give you the most stress. Determine if they are a “must” or if you can make life a little easier on yourself by approaching these holiday stressors in a more proactive and healthy way.
Determine Your Priorities
Take the time to schedule your priorities. To do so, first list all your priorities from the most important to the least important based on necessity and what makes the season most meaningful. Take each one and assign it to someone and set a deadline. Seeing what is at the bottom of the list might help you shave things off. Involving others might make you realize that things that once seemed important are not so much anymore. This will help those that tend to overextend themselves. Procrastinators will benefit from starting early, pacing themselves, and adding some fun to those things they dread most.
Avoid Hectic Schedules
Sit down with family and discuss your calendar. Choose which events are the most special and eliminate those that are no longer as special. You don’t have to be going 24/7 during the holidays. To keep a regular schedule, determine what holiday tasks that you can fit into your existing routine and tackle one big task at a time. Don’t forget to rest and avoid the hustle and bustle that can get in the way of being present and enjoying the holiday moments.
Set a Budget
Do you know how much you devote to the holidays or do you endure the shock when you see your bank statement and credit card bills? We typically think about the cost of gifts for loved ones, but do you consider all the expenses? Adding up the cost of work gift exchanges; gifts for teachers, babysitters, or hostesses; charitable donations; hosting a dinner or party; decorations; holiday cards; gift boxes and wrapping; shipping and postage, and gas to travel out of town can be surprising. Setting a realistic budget will not only help you spend within your means, but it will help you figure out how much you need to save throughout the year so that you are not swiping that credit card. You might find that you need to cut back. Think of creative gift giving such as the gift of time, avoid impulse buying, and take the time to search for those deals.
Don’t Abandon Healthy Foods and Exercise
Holidays are times to enjoy good food with family and friends. But you don’t have to abandon healthy eating and exercise all together. Practice moderation by enjoying holiday foods on the specific holiday. Choose the foods you love and pass on the ones you don’t. Have healthy snacks available so you don’t grab sugary or fatty alternatives. And don’t forget to incorporate physical activity into your schedule. Make an appointment on your calendar like you would do any appointment and keep it.
Fight the Blues
Not everyone feels cheerful during the holidays. For some, it can be sad and lonely due to a loss of a loved one, being far from family, or difficult memories. This can sometimes leave people isolating themselves and avoiding interaction with others. If this is you, commit to attending some holiday events or celebrations. Find out who else might be alone during the holidays and have your own get together. Volunteer for a local charity; this not only puts things in perspective, but can lift one’s mood.
Navigating Family Conflict
If you don’t want to avoid your family during the holidays, but you do want to avoid conflict, ask those members if you can agree to set aside differences for the holidays. Stay away from controversial subjects, avoid criticizing, and be ready with a polite response if you are typically the receiver of criticisms. Know when to take a break.
A Time for Gratitude
The holidays are not like the movies or a picture in a magazine. Expecting too much from yourself and others can lead to disappointment. Evaluate your expectations and determine if they are realistic or not, if they are yours or someone else’s, if they are still feasible, and if they are within your control. Too much time working toward that perfect holiday might prevent you from really experiencing it. Instead, focus on what you are grateful for this season and write it down. You can then review your list or add to it if you find yourself back in the trap of what should be or what should have been.