If you are busy and often take on a lot at once (and don’t we all?), then the holidays can be a really stressful time of year. Here are some reminders and ideas on how to survive the season and the fast approaching New Year ahead.
1. Plan ahead: If you are able to prepare, usually life goes a lot smother. What kind of things during the holidays might you plan for? One obvious one is gifts. Make a list of whom you need to give to and plan accordingly. I also suggest that you have a few gifts ready (wine, candles, chocolates), just in case you receive a gift from someone you didn’t expect or get invited to a last minute party, then you won’t have to rush and get something last minute or be left empty handed. Also, don’t forget to gift those who take care of you throughout the year; hairdresser, gardener, housekeeper, manicurist, teacher, babysitter, etc.… You can tip them extra or make them something special like cookies.
2. Set limits and boundaries with yourself and others: I think this one is great for the holidays, but also for all year long. Try not to over extend yourself. Ha, that’s one that I know I used to do all the time. It’s taken me years to refine this and many people have felt slighted in the process, but I have to realize my limits and take care of me. This year we set a limit and told our family that we could spend either Thanksgiving or Christmas with them, but not both. It’s a long drive to see them and we have a young child who has a schedule with nap times. The family expressed hurt at first, but quickly understood it was not personal.
Also, know your limits financially. We all have heard those 3 words, “set a budget.” Right. Who actually does this? You can. Sit down with your significant others or on your own and figure what you can actually afford and how to stick to that budget. There are great budget apps out there these days, such as Wally http://wally.me (Free) or Spendbook www.spendbookapp.com ($1.99). Aren’t the holidays all about spending time with family and friends and giving to others? Giving does not necessarily mean buying high priced gifts for friends and family or going on a shopping spree for ourselves. I heard a great story recently about a family that decided for Hanukkah that instead of eight nights of gifts, they gave their time to 8 different charities/others in need. I love this concept and it could be used in many different ways and you can start some new traditions.
3. Ask for help or find ways to reduce your stress: Shopping is one of them; malls and grocery stores are crazy this time of year. Think about some ways that you can avoid crowds and busy times at the stores. Try going to the stores on a weeknight before they close or right when they open on the weekend. I do this almost all year long when I need to go grocery shopping. I have figured out the best time to go shopping by talking with the cashier and sales associates. Also, in San Diego, we have Amazon Prime ($99/year) same day delivery for free.
This is a lifesaver if you need a few grocery items and you want to avoid traffic and crowds. Check out Amazon Prime, they offer free same day, next day or 2-day delivery in most areas. I think it’s worth the investment. A lot of grocery stores these days are offering delivery as well.
4. Plan some fun family & friend time and/or you time: Think of some activities that could be little to no stress. Such as; ice skating, singing, taking a walk/run, reading a book, journaling, taking pictures, painting, baking, watching a movie, spending an afternoon at a park or beach, going for a girls night or date night, ordering in pizza after a hectic day or playing board games with friends or family. You might also want to try an electronic device cleanse too. Turn off those cell phones and tablets for a few hours or even for a day. You might feel better.
5. Give Thanks: Last year during the holidays, I noticed a lot of people around me were grumpy and it started to wear off on me. My baby had some medical issues and my husband was not at home for the holiday season. I got to thinking on my daily walks about what I am grateful for. My really good friend and colleague gave me a pretty notebook and I got the idea that instead of focusing on what sucks, I would focus my energy on what I have going for me. And with that, became a daily gratitude journal. Take some time this holiday season to be grateful for the good things in life, smile at a stranger, start up a conversation with the person in line next to you, and say thank you.
3 Quick Steps to Decrease Stress
*Prepare as best as you can
*Say “No” if you can’t do something
*Have some fun!