Minimizing Holiday Stress

While the holidays are supposed to be a joyous time spent with our most loved family and friends, it also comes with extra stress. We find ourselves in the midst of shopping for that perfect gift, planning parties, attending parties, cooking, baking, attending company functions, working extra hours to fill in for those taking holiday vacations, worrying about finances, especially during this tough economic time and keeping up with the regular day to day responsibilities. We quickly find ourselves on complete overload. I know, personally, there are many mornings I am racing around my house, getting ready for work, getting my son up and ready for school, helping my husband get off to work, taking care of many pets, checking emails and making a mad race out the door. Once my son is safely in school, I take a deep breath and begin the day. Already within the first few hours of the morning, I am feeling stress.

I want to enjoy the holidays. I want to relish in the beautiful holiday decorations, the wonderful Christmas music and cherish the moments and memories I am making with my family. However, if I don’t manage myself, my time and my priorities, the holidays will be here and gone and I will be left tired and wondering what happened. If you are feeling the same stress and don’t know how to step back and put some holiday into your life, I have created a list of what I call holiday time….

1. Take time for yourself. Even if it is just 15 minutes that you shut yourself off from the world, take that time to think, regroup and restore you energy. It is amazing what just 15 minutes will do for you physically and mentally. Sometimes, I like to take a few minutes to read something motivational or a soak in the tub. Take a 15 minute power nap, meditate, or whatever works to help revitalize and refresh your mind, body and spirit.

2. Don’t over extend yourself. Learn how to say “no” when others are asking for your time. You don’t have to do everything and be everything to everybody, because you will only become exhausted and be nothing to yourself.

3. Listen to holiday music to put you in the spirit. In your car, at work or at home, take a few minutes to listen to your favorites and let the spirit of the holidays refresh you with some old cherished memories.

4. Prioritize your day, everyday. First thing in the morning, make a list of what you need to accomplish during the day and keep it with you, marking items off as you go. At the end of the day you will have a wonderful feeling of accomplishment when you have marked those items off your list.

5. Shop online. If you know what you are looking for, online shopping is WONDERFUL! You can shop right in the comfort of your own home and most businesses offer free shipping during the holidays and deliver right to your door!

6. If you are struggling with finances and worried about buying presents, take a little time do some coupon and bargain hunting. Every week the stores are offering new discounts, sales and promotions. You can get online and print off coupons or obtain coupon codes for substantial discounts that will help you purchase gifts at a fraction of the cost. Be creative! Some of the best gifts I have received were the ones from the heart, not from the pocketbook.

7. If you can’t make a friends party, offer to meet up with him/her after the holidays for lunch or dinner. By this time, life will be more settled and you can relax and enjoy the company of your friend.

8. Laugh. Laughter is important and essential to our well-being. It lifts our spirits and raises our natural good feeling endorphins. Laughter can turn a bad day into a good day and reposition your attitude.

9. Call an old friend during the holiday season. Friendship is one of the most precious gifts we can give to one another. I have recently caught up with many of my old childhood friends through a social networking website and I couldn’t ask for a better gift than to know that through all these years I have made special memories in their lives just as they have mine. Take some time to catch up, talk about old times and laugh about silly memories. They probably need you, just as much as you need them.

10. Delegate! If you just have too much to do, find others that can lend you a hand! Kids, if they are old enough, can help with shopping, housework, errands and even cooking. At work, ask your co-workers to help with projects. Don’t be afraid to ask. Many times, we feel as if we are the only ones that can do the job or handle the responsibilities, so we don’t ask for help. The flip side to this is that those around us truly don’t know how overwhelmed we feel and don’t ask to help. Don’t be afraid to lean on others to get you through.

11. Get plenty of sleep. We do not function well mentally or physically if we are sleep deprived. Get your full nights rest so you will be ready to face the day with mental clarity and physically energized.

12. Pay attention to diet and exercise. While this time of year is full of homemade goodies, parties, cooking and so forth, we can still keep our indulgences to a minimum. Overeating can leave us feeling lethargic, which leads to lack of productivity and mood fluctuations. Additionally, make sure you get in at least 20 minutes of exercise 3-5 times a week. Regular cardio activity is essential to maintaining your daily energy and mental alertness.

The holidays are meant to be enjoyed. Make a decision today, that you will enjoy the season, your family, your friends and the spirit of the holidays. Be true to yourself and you will find the holidays to be just as enjoyable as they were in years past. ‘Tis the Season! Enjoy!

Author's Bio: 

Stephanie A. Armstrong, MSCM
Mediator, Life Coach & Conflict Management Coach