Simplify the Holidays and Stress Less

holidaysAh, the holidays. A joyous—and stressful—time of year. The average American spends 42 hours a year on holiday activities: shopping, wrapping, returning, traveling, attending parties, etc.[1] Squeezing these activities into an already busy schedule can cause a good amount of stress, but the holidays are meant to be cheerful and magical times.1 So, how can you take some of that holiday stress out of the picture? Here are seven ways:

  1. 1.       It’s Not About the Holidays—It’s About You. If you stress easily, the added holiday pressure can really get to you quick.1 Instead of enjoying the little things you used to love about holiday time, you begin to dread them. Oftentimes, stress is related to worrying about the future.1 Instead, try to focus on the present moment.1
  2. 2.       Create the Holiday You Want. During the holiday season, different pressures begin to pull you into all directions.1 Family gathering on Friday, hitting the local mall sales Saturday, decorating on Sunday, and back to work on Monday. Before all the craziness begins, sit down and decide how you want to spend your holiday season.1 What memories do you want to look back on when the season is over? Identify areas where you feel like you need to cut back.1 Don’t feel obligated to attend every single holiday get-together you’re invited to—it’s okay to politely decline if it isn’t something that brings you joy.1
  3. 3.       Involve Your Kids. Children also feel the pressure of the holidays.1 The entire season’s craziness throws them off, too. Therefore, try to stick to your normal schedule as much as possible when it comes to mealtimes and bedtimes.1 Children feel more secure when their days follow a predictable order.1 In fact, it improves their moods and helps to create a peaceful home.1 While a regular schedule isn’t always possible during the holidays, offsetting the chaos by involving your children in holiday planning can help them feel more in control during this busy time.1
  4. 4.       Shopping. Bumper-to-bumper cart traffic, grouchy shoppers, and out-of-stock items are all fun-drainers. Purchasing gifts is a personal time to give a little something special to the ones you love. However, the holidays are not all about the gifts—it’s about togetherness. According to Consumer Reports, 49 million people receive gifts they don’t want each year, and this adds to the stress of finding the perfect thing.1 Think about what your loved one truly enjoys.1 Perhaps a lunch out together would be much more appreciated than a pair of gloves.1 Get creative—and don’t go into debt to make the holidays special.1
  5. 5.       Play Games. Games can help connect with each other in a fun and light atmosphere during family gatherings.1 They engage the mind, body, and imagination.1 Most importantly, they keep you in the moment and create memories.1
  6. 6.       Postpone Family Feuds. When a group of people get together and expect to have a great time, the slightest setback is a set-up for arguments.1 Emotions and expectations are high. However, the holidays are not the time to work out family baggage.1 When the festivities wind down, address them in a more relaxed and private setting.1 Just say, “Let’s enjoy the holidays and work this out after. I care about you.”
  7. 7.       Have Compassion. Although you may be stressing less over the holidays, others who are not may come to you to vent.1 How can you be polite and keep calm in that situation? Don’t take things personally—during the holidays people try to get their needs met and it doesn’t always get said nicely.1 Maybe they just need some love or validation.1 Instead of thinking how they should be, accept them as they are and try to see where they are coming from.1 You’ll feel less frustrated.1

From all of us here at Wellington Retreat, have a safe and stress-free holiday season!

[1] Barker, J. (2012, August 9). Reduce Holiday Stress: Tips to Take the Pressure Off. WebMD. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://www.webmd.com/parenting/family-health-12/reduce-holiday-stress

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