Wednesday, November 18

Eight Tips to Handle Holiday Stress

The holiday season is an opportunity to spend time with family and friends, to take some time off work, or even escape for a winter getaway. For all the joy and fun, though, so comes the stress...

Between the additional errands, the extra traffic, and the stress of spending money that you don’t have – even the sanest mom will be questioning her sanity as the holidays near.

You don't have to be one of them!

With stress comes a greater risk of anxiety and depression, and depression is frequently an unwelcome guest over the holidays, but there are many ways you can minimize your stress and anxiety to allow you to truly enjoy the season.

Set A Budget

Shopping can be fun, but spending money isn’t always easy, and Americans spend almost a $1,000 every holiday season on gifts alone. It’s unavoidable, but you can minimize the damage by setting a budget and sticking to it.

Keep your shopping list in your purse to keep from being overwhelmed or worse – overspending. If you walk into a store and are bedazzled by all the shiny things, I can relate. I get so overwhelmed that I get nothing accomplished. Having a list can help fight this urge, keep you sane – and help your budget stay sane in the process.

Wrap It Up

As soon as you start buying, start wrapping. There’s nothing more stressful than tackling a mountain of unwrapped gifts two days before Christmas. Save on the cost of wrapping paper by buying it after the holiday each year and stowing it away for next year. Be sure to attach gift tags as you wrap. If you’re wrapping a month in advance, there’s no way you’re going to remember what that funky rectangular shaped box is, let alone who it’s for.

Make Wrapping a Cinch

To save time and sanity, wrap gifts that go together in all the same paper. For instance, wrap all gifts that will be going with you to your mother-in-law’s on Christmas Eve in the red paper with the gingerbread men. And put all gifts for your friends and neighbors in the blue paper with the snowflakes, etc.

Exercise

The American Heart Association wants you to stay active all the time, but it’s extremely important to keep that up during the holidays. Any activity or exercise you can fit in will help reduce your stress and elevate your mood. It’s going to stimulate endorphin production and trigger a positive feeling in your body.

You might be busy, but if you can find time to exercise for half an hour three times a week, you will feel better. You can go walking or jogging, swimming or biking, play sports, and find time for aerobics.

Take It Easy

The American Psychological Association reminds us that we need to take time for ourselves. There are parties and gatherings and we are constantly surrounded by people. It’s great to be with the ones we love and laugh about the old days.

You shouldn’t miss all those great times, but what you should be careful of is setting unrealistic expectations. You can’t do everything, and it’s okay to take time out for yourself, even if it’s just 15 minutes.

If you do a whole lot of hosting, make sure you delegate- whether you ask everyone to bring a different dish, or you rope in family to take on certain tasks. 

Stay Smart

The holiday season is a time of indulgence, but as the Mayo Clinic directs- it doesn’t mean you should abandon your healthy ways. There’s no need for a free for all that will just add to your stress.

Enjoy yourself, but try having healthy snacks before holiday gatherings so you don’t over snack while you’re out. Make sure that you’re getting plenty of sleep, as you are more likely to overindulge after a poor night’s sleep.

Choose Your Battles

We all have someone in our circle that rubs us the wrong way. It’s only natural- not everyone can always get along. Allowing someone else to get under your skin, though, is only going to ruin your holiday and increase your stress levels. Learn to pick your battles, and don’t take the bait.

The Mayo Clinic suggests that if you have a real problem with someone, set it aside and save it for another day. Even the calmest people can lose their cool during the holidays.

Limit Your Travel

The holidays are about family, but they are also about togetherness and making memories. If you’re spending your holidays trapped in the car together, driving down icy roads, stressed out, consider ways to travel less.

Cook in Advance

Did you know that you can make mashed potatoes during the summer, freeze them, and have them ready for the holidays? Mashed potatoes can be kept in the freezer for months if you use a freezer-friendly recipe. Cook your mashed potatoes in advance and offer to bring them to Christmas dinner. You can skip the stress of cooking, because they’ll be ready and waiting for you.  Learn how to holiday freezer cook here!

Bottom Line

Make sure to take the time and create a deliberate plan!  Oftentimes the memories we are making are of a stressed-out mom, running around missing out on all the fun because she’s trying to create a perfect moment. Instead, relax and experience the holidays with your family. Between a little planning and taking some of the pressure off, you’ll have a holiday that would make Norman Rockwell sigh.

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