How to minimize Stress over the holiday season
The holiday season is a festive time of the year that we typically spend with friends and family . Well-wishing runs rampant, delectible foods and thoughtfully wrapped gifts are shared , and merriment abounds. A little bit of stress leading up to the big event is normal as we try to get all our ducks in a row in terms of gift buying, meal planning, travel arrangements, deciding what to wear, etc.. but for many people stress levels rise to a point where they do not enjoy themselves as much as they might. People use a number of different strategies to help defuse this type of “holiday season stress build up”. We outline a few key strategies related to gift-giving, meal planning and relatives below. If you would like to share some strategies that work for you, please feel free to add them in the comment section below.
If you are in the habit of giving gifts to friends and family, stress levels can spike especially if you leave the gift buying to later in the year or maybe even later in the last month !. So start early. Make a list of who you want to give gifts to and what you want to give, set a budget and then pick up the items throughout the year or at least a month or two in advance. Having this done before December will ease your mind, as the end of the year comes up quickly on the calendar.
Overspending and afforability can also add to this stress so make sure to determine in advance what you want to spend as a total and then on each gift recipient. Some people use “sinking funds” to save for their Christmas expenditures so they are not caught off guard when the holiday season rolls around. A sinking fund is an account that has been set up to receive monthly contributions which over a certain time period will reach the pre-determined amount to fund the specific purpose ( in this case gifts).
Alternatively, some families do not give gifts at all, or limit the gift giving to a certain dollar amount or to a “Secret Santa Gift Exchange” policy. In these cases, a lot of the stress involved in the choosing and buying of the gifts is eliminated.
Putting together well thought out and tasty meals for the holiday season can also be stress inducing. Again, starting early to gather recipes and plan your menu will go a long way to reduce your stress levels. If at all possible, preparing and making items in advance will save time and peace of mind. Additionally, enlisting other family members to prepare and bring some of their specialties or side dishes will offset some of the pressure. If it falls upon you to prepare the whole meal, then naturally your stress levels may be elevated. Enlisting the help of others is a time tested and effective method for reducing the workload. If meal preparation is too much altogether then using a catering service can be an option or going out for a festive dinner at a trendy restaurant.
Family relationships are complex and some people find it hard to be in the same place as other family members during the holiday season. Being prepared can make the difference between having a good time and being disappointed. Pre-thinking how we will react in different situations can go a long way to diffusing any potential confrontations. Spending our time with those family members whose company we enjoy, can also make the difference. Having an exit strategy to limit one’s exposure to toxic relationships is also helpful.
As always it's important to self monitor to make sure that we don't get caught up or overwhelmed with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. In addition to getting exercise, getting adequate sleep, eating and hydrating properly, it's important to be kind to oneself, to set realistic expectations, and to ask for help if need be.
As the holiday season approaches it is easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of activity and emotion. A bit of strategic planning can help make the ride a little less bumpy !.
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