Although the holidays are overall a time of good cheer, time spent with family and friends, and celebrating traditions, it is inevitable that with the planning of parties and holiday shopping that there can be some stress as well. Holiday stress can cause us to load up on sugary, fatty foods that we are not even hungry for, but just eat to temporarily relieve the stress we are feeling. Follow the tips below to minimize your holiday stress:
- Plan ahead: If you have a party to attend or host, or if you have a long list of holiday gifts to purchase, write an organized list of what needs to get done, or purchased and distribute the tasks to different days. Don’t try to pack too much into one day or one weekend or else you will get overwhelmed, stressed, and reaching for the nearest fast food or chocolate bar.
- Delegate responsibilities: The reason why a lot of people get stressed over the holidays, or any day for that matter, is that they try to do everything themselves, even if they have to stay up all day and night to get everything done. There is nothing wrong or shameful in delegating responsibilities to those you trust. If you want to clean the house, do laundry, and go holiday shopping one day before you have to go to work the next day, then choose one task that you want to do, and delegate the other tasks to either another person, or for another day. A wise boss once told me that “Whatever you don’t get done today, it will be there tomorrow for you.”
- Set limits: If you are a full-time worker and mom, and volunteer every Saturday at the local soup kitchen, don’t feel bad about saying “no” to taking on more responsibilities such as hosting this year’s holiday dinner or organizing your holiday party at work. It is up to you to set limits. A client once told me that she is stressed all of the time because her grandchildren come over nearly every day and all she wants to do when she gets home from work is relax and have some “me” time. She didn’t want to hurt her grandchildren’s feelings by setting limits with them. However, she realized that if she didn’t set limits, then this stressor would never be resolved and the time with her grandchildren would be more stressful than enjoyable. Setting limits and saying “no” can be hard at first, but if you don’t take charge of your time, then others will do it for you and your health will pay the price.
- Keep conversation light: At holiday parties, especially with family and friends you haven’t seen in a while, individuals can start talking about sensitive topics such as so-and-so’s marital problems or so-and-so’s job loss, and these types of conversations can start arguments and make the holiday cheer turn sour. Take control of your holiday party conversations by keeping conversation light and positive since the holidays are supposed to be a time of appreciating all that is good in life, not about the negative.
- Don’t feel obligated to others: The holidays are a time for giving, but sometimes with out-of-town family and friends coming to visit, and party after party after party being thrown, your “me” time availability and time for physical activity can go out the window. Don’t feel obligated to say “yes” to every invitation, or to have all of your out-of-town guests hang out at your place every night they are in town. As mentioned before, it is OK to delegate invitations and responsibilities to other family members that you trust. For example, offer to host your aunt and uncle for 3 days and let your sibling host them for the other 3 days they will be in town. This will be less holiday stress on everyone!
- Take time to enjoy yourself: Even though we tend to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of holiday visits and celebrations as well as in all of the holiday preparation, we need to take a “time-out” every once in a while to actually enjoy the holiday season. After all, the holiday season is about celebrating time spent with those you love and being thankful for all that we have been blessed with in our lives. If we can’t enjoy those things, then the whole point of the holidays would be missed.