Keeping STRESS out of the Holidays

xmas tree in field

Ready or not, the holidays are upon us! This is an exciting time of year that can also become very stressful … we have extra strains on our time (parties, shopping, family visits, etc), many people have end of the year deadlines at work, exams are looming for school children, financial stress pops up due to all of the extras (gifts, parties, holiday clothes, decorations, etc), and the list goes on.  In an ideal world, to minimize stress you would begin planning back in August or September (saving money, looking at calendars for travel and entertainment, etc). But we are only human…

Now that we are here in the moment, there are still a few things you can do to make the holidays more enjoyable for you and your family.

Make lists.
You must be aware of which “extras” are on your plate if you are to manage them. Stay organized to improve timeliness and alleviate last minute surprises.
Keep lists for holiday gifts you will buy– this way you have an idea what the budget is, you don’t leave anyone out, you don’t over-buy for anyone, and you can see what you have left to accomplish.
Keep lists for deadlines– work and school deadlines crop up this time of year, be sure you are top of what is due and when.
Make a list of all parties/events you want to attend– some may overlap, and you will have to make choices. A clear list of what your opportunities are can help you make those choices.

Keep perspective and revise lists as needed!
What do the holidays really mean to you?? Is it about faith and religion? Is it about family? Is it about downtime? Is it about buying amazing surprises for those you love? Is it about volunteering to help others? Jot down what your favorite things are about the holidays and make sure your lists represent those sentiments.

Focus on what is essential.
Step 2 will help you in getting here, but dig deeper. What is essential to you and your family, what are your core values, what do you want to look back remember about the holidays when you are 95? Once you identify what REALLY matters to your soul, then you can make choices and plans accordingly. If having downtime with family is essential to you, then maybe you should consider turning down some of your party invitations and instead have a family game night. Don’t let the holidays disrupt what you want to focus on.

Schedule wisely.
Get your calendar updated! If you have a partner/spouse/children, you should absolutely have individual calendars AND a family calendar that the entire family can view and add to as needed. Look now at your calendar to see where you have time to schedule essential activities, look to see if you need to pre-schedule babysitters, look to see if you have time to go shopping, look to see if you have time scheduled for you?  Does your calendar reflect your essentials list?

The holidays are a magical time! Get the most out of it by identifying what REALLY MATTERS to you (it will be different for everyone) and being true to that vision. If money is tight, get creative for gifts: spend time together, create food gifts, provide helpful services, draw names within the family, etc. Don’t be afraid to use your vacation time at work; America has an illness where we are afraid to take our time-off! I challenge you to set the tone for your team if you are in leadership, show your employees how important vacation time is.

While you’re at it, now’s the perfect time to simplify your holidays, too!

At the end of the day, define what you want the feel of the season to be and then commit to living that vision; only you can make it happen. Happy holidays!

Life is crazy, find your balance and enjoy the journey!

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