Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas: 5 Ways to Stress Less During the Holiday

There are so many ways to get in the holiday spirit. Beautiful lights, decorating a Christmas tree, carols and Christmas music, and maybe even some snow if it suites your fancy.  But, often this time of year can get people a little strung-out and fatigued, especially since the rest of life doesn’t stop just because the holidays come around. Added commitments appear and can make it tough to keep up with life. Not only do we have all the normal daily responsibilities, but we now have to plan to get gifts, brave the Christmas shopping crowds, wrap presents, make travel arrangements, organize time to meet with our family, in-laws, and relatives, etc. All this commotion can lead to stress, which can distract from the true gift that Christmas has to offer. This year reevaluate how you approach the holiday season and begin to develop traditions where you can have a great holiday season without all the stress.

1) Don’t worry about the “perfect gift”

People can drive themselves crazy worrying about the perfect gift. Everywhere you go during the holiday season you see advertisements for countless gift opportunities and special limited time offers that you must rush to buy immediately. It’s important to want to make others happy and really show we care by giving them a gift they will enjoy, but not at the expense of our health and well-being. How do approach the elusive perfect gift? Here a few ways to avoid the burden. Get creative – What are your skills and talents?  Use these talents and your creativity to make a gift or to think of something unique and original. It will probably be less expensive and time-consuming when all is said and done, and if the person you are gifting appreciates things from the heart they will value the thought and effort. Two birds with one stone – Until just this year I was opposed to buying the same card for numerous people, but in reality if it’s a good card, and provides a wonderful message, why not?  Adding your personal message within the card is what makes it really meaningful anyway. I think this can apply to gifts as well. Maybe there is a book, photo album, or gift card idea that you think a few people could enjoy. This can save serious time looking for that perfect gift. A gift that keeps on giving – In my opinion, the best gifts are those which are practical. This includes gifts people actually need or can use to better themselves. I can dig getting socks, undershirts, and ties. I know I’ll use them and won’t have to buy them myself. I’m also a big fan of personal development type of gifts. A subscription to an awesome magazine, or some personal development material, such as subscription fees to a forum or voucher to a seminar could be a cool gift to the personal development lover. What does someone need, and furthermore, what could they use to be a better person? This is a gift that keeps on giving.

2) Avoid a Christmas spending spree and racking up the credit cards

Call me Scrooge, but I think there is just way too much emphasis on gift giving during the holiday season. Gifting is often the major priority, which can clearly be a stressful part of the holiday. If you’re someone who worries about money, how do you handle the Christmas cash crunch? One of the more counterproductive things to do is spend over your means. This will only increase stress in the long-run. Set a limit on the amount of money you are going to spend. Make a verbal contract with family and friends about how much you are going to spend on gifts. Everyone will know what to expect and be able to appreciate the thought that went into the gift. Another strategy is to save money ahead of time for gift giving. You’ll be prepared when the holidays come around and can avoid the pitfall that occurs when you say, “Just Charge it”. Saving is obviously a little too late if you didn’t do so this year, so next year; include a Christmas shopping fund in your budget. These are just a few ways to relieve the stress of holiday spending. Remember that you can always be creative when it comes to gift ideas. There is bound to be something out there that is reasonably priced while still being valuable and appealing.

3) Christmas doesn’t have to be on December 25

A highly stressful part of any holiday season is the expectation to see every single family member on Christmas day. I’m not sure what your family make-up is, but this just simply isn’t always possible to do. Many people have far-flung family members where travel is required, or blended families that include a hand-full of Christmas gatherings. This can cause some stress if you’re rushing from place to place, so remember that celebrating with family doesn’t have to be on Christmas day. Many people are off work over the holiday, which offers a span of numerous days to see family and friends. If nothing else you can even make arrangements to visit family the weekend before Christmas. The joy and blessings of family togetherness needn’t be dependent on a specific day; this can be done anytime.

4) Don’t overindulged

During the holiday season, it’s easy to go overboard on just about everything. There are holiday parties with food, snacks, and all sorts of goodies. You go to the office party, your friends party, and then family occasions, all which lead you feel sick and unhealthy for the rest of the night. For me, I’m not on a diet and really don’t strictly watch calories. But, if you’re on a diet or strict exercise routine, making efforts to not overindulge can save you some personal guilt and extra time at the gym after the holiday. Self-discipline during the holiday’s can really save some stress when your regular routine rolls around.

5) Avoid family drama

Not everyone gets along. Nobody is perfect and people have their issues. It’s just a fact of life. Through the holiday season make an effort to really get along with others. Drop expectations and approach your family with open arms. If there is someone that often causes you stress, this awareness is a perfect opportunity to plan on what you can do to make the holiday experience the best it can be. Give the pure gift of kindness and open-mindedness, and focus on healing any broken relations instead of entrenching them deeper.

A true holiday gift

Begin to examine what causes you to feel joyful and what stresses you out during the holiday. Christmas looses its pleasure when all we can think about is, “Did I get more than I gave?” or “Did I give more than I got?” Make your holiday season about those closest to you by showing you appreciate their lives. Build lasting memories and open yourself up to self-expression. Feel the wonder that the holiday season can offer and really think about what type of traditions have been a part of your life. These traditions are meant to be cherished and revered. Make this holiday a transforming one! Questions: What traditions do you have that add great value to your holiday? What helps you make the holiday’s a great experience? How do you manage stress during the holiday season?