Tips to Help Ease Holiday Stress

The holidays can be a big stressor for many. There’s family to see, presents to buy and wrap, parties to attend, and a big, giant deadline (Christmas morning!) to top it all off. But the holidays need not be as stressful as we make them. Instead, get back to the “reason of the season,” the “why” behind all the hoopla, and it will help you turn any stress into gratitude.

The culprit: Too many obligations and parties to attend

The key here is to not overextend yourself from the beginning. If there are parties that you must attend, such as work or client parties, then make sure you get them on your calendar a.s.a.p. Fill in the blanks around any must-do appointments, such as your child’s winter performance or bake sale. Don’t be afraid to give a polite “no thank you” to an event or party that will push you over the edge and cause stress; you can send a card or bottle of wine in your place. The holidays are there to be merry, not crazy running from one event to the next.

The culprit: Breaking the budget (or not having one)

The best way to beat this holiday stress (that we all feel!) is to start with a budget. Use a spreadsheet if you have to. Write down a list of all those to whom you would like to give a gift. Other than your immediate family, determine if you’ll give a gift to extended family, teachers, or service providers such as the mailman or the garbage man. Once you have a list of all the people you’ll give gifts to, start to write down ideas for what to give them. Write down the item and cost and keep a running total. If your budget is getting too stretched, cut people out of the gift list and give them a card instead. Remember, the season is about sharing love and thanks, not just gifts.

The culprit: Crazy expectations

From that perfect holiday card to the perfect bow, it’s amazing how we put these crazy expectations on ourselves. Start the holiday season with a family meeting to remind everyone what the holidays are all about. Set expectations with your immediate family and extended family. This means determining if you’ll do a secret gift exchange instead of buying individual presents for every family member, as well as letting the kids know the rules for the season (for example, one large gift with a few smaller ones). Tell your kids to make a wish list and place a star next to their favorites. This is a great time to remind your children the meaning of the holidays. And if that holiday card simply doesn’t get done, let it go. Take a moment to send family and friends a heartfelt email, or make it a New Years card and send it after Christmas or Hanukkah.