Does the holiday hustle and bustle raise your stress level? You are not alone. The American Psychological Association conducted a study on holiday stress. Participants were asked a number of questions and the following statistics were the top areas that caused elevated stress levels: 67% felt a lack of time, 62% a lack of money, 47% pressure to give gifts and 44% pressure to attend family gatherings. Sadly stress levels for women and low to middle income families during the holiday season raised exponentially. Although all stress cannot be eliminated there are ways to reduce holiday stress.
Actor Jean Reno describes his attitude towards the holidays this way:
“I’m a minimalist. I don’t really need much to enjoy a good holiday
– just my family and the bare essentials.”
Tanynya’s 9 Ways to Maintain Holiday Calm:
1. Know your budget. To plan effectively you will need to know your budget capacity. Your budget should include an allotment for gifts, decorations, food, home projects, cleaning and ‘me’ money for tip number 9.
2. Shop early. Once you set a budget it’s time to shop. Don’t wait until November or December to start shopping. Enjoy shopping for gifts all year long. For instance when on a summer vacation budget some money for interesting gifts. Use holiday sales for sweep gifts, in other words, gifts you are unable to acquire throughout the year.
3. Get a calendar and use it. There are a number of ways to keep track of tasks and obligations. You will need a calendar that fits your lifestyle. You can use the good old trustworthy paper calendar or your email or phone’s default calendar. If you want an APP you can find one by searching ‘list of calendar APPs’. Start by putting the big event date prominently in your calendar. Then begin to fill in dates that certain tasks must be completed to insure a smooth event. Spread them out. Do some tasks earlier in the year to free up time during the last 3 months of the year.
4. Make lists. Lists can be rewarding. There is a certain sense of satisfaction to crossing tasks off of the list. I like to preserve the entire list so that if I am feeling my holiday planning process is moving too slowly, I have my list to remind me how far I have come. A strong list should include: each person you are purchasing a gift for, projects you would like to complete prior to guest arriving such as reorganize the pantry or the purchase of a new microwave, grocery shopping, food preparation and decorating projects. If you have been shopping all year long by the time you get to October you have checked several tasks off of the ‘to do’ list. Progress.
5. Don’t over schedule. This is a biggy. Using your calendar be sure to put all holiday events on your calendar. Color code them to help you prioritize. You may want to use the street light color code, green can mean going, yellow for might go and red for nope, not going. If you have scheduled your tasks already, adding holiday obligations may cause some shifting of task target dates. That’s ok. There should be wiggle room in your calendar because you have spread out your tasks which allows for adjustments. Finally, you want to schedule a ‘pamper me’ day. We will talk about this a bit more shortly.
6. Let go of perfection. Think of your holiday tradition or dinner as perfect to begin with. Adopt the belief that all is as it should be and perfection is at your fingertips. Remember that the only person that knows that something did not get done, bought or cooked is you. Enjoy instead of obsessing. This is a time to visit with family and friends. So whatever tradition you use to get folks in the room is mere camouflage for reconnecting.
7. Create your own traditions. Are you tired of the ‘same-old-same-old’? Start a new tradition of hosting every other year and be courageous, go on vacation. Join someone else’s celebration. Choose a volunteer opportunity. Bored of your own tradition? Add Karaoke or a dance off to the evening’s festivities. Include others in your preparation for the big night. Give yourself permission to add a new feel to your festivities.
8. Keep your daily routine. It is important to stay healthy during the holiday season. There’s not much worse than getting the holiday flu. Keep your exercise routine, eat breakfast, eat healthy balanced meals and sleep, sleep, sleep.
9. Breath, Relax and Pamper Yourself. Spend the ‘me’ money you entered into your budget. Give yourself permission to take a relaxing vacation instead of staying in town. If you stay in town schedule a pamper day. Get a massage, facial, mud bath or golf all day. You deserve a gift planned by you because you know you best. Meditate and be mindful.
As Jean so simply yet eloquently stated, in the end the Holiday Season is about family. You are part of the family. Create traditions that please you and others. Most importantly give yourself the gift of time by planning effectively.
Enjoy your Holiday!
Photograph courtesy of Shay McAtee
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American Psychological Association
Holiday Stress Findings
Mom's Guide to Family Health: New Year Food and Fitness
Reduce Holiday Stress
By Joanne Barker
Reviewed By Hansa D. Bhargava, MD
5 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress
Written by Lisa Cappelloni | Published on November 18, 2010
Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping
By Mayo Clinic Staff
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