Merry Christmahanakwanzika to you!
The holiday season is officially upon us, and for some that may mean hitting the panic button for the rest of the month. Between family gatherings, hosting parties and holiday events, and trying to find the perfect gifts for your loved ones, the holiday season may feel more like a daunting task than a celebration. Luckily, there are some things you can do to alleviate the stress of the holiday season so you can focus on what’s really important!
- BE PREPARED!
This is probably the most important thing you can do to stay calm during the holidays. There is nothing worse than rushing to make a pie to impress your in laws or find the perfect gift for that special someone (especially when they’ve already told you they found the perfect gift for you; the pressure’s on!). Budgeting your time is just as important as budgeting your money during the holidays. Make a to-do list of things you need to accomplish before certain events. Having that information on paper will make it easier for you to manage your time effectively, and more likely that you will reach your goals on time.
BONUS TIP FOR NEXT YEAR: Start preparing for next year now by starting a list in the notepad on your phone of possible gift ideas. Keep track of what your friends and family mention they want throughout the year, and when the holiday season rolls around, you will have the easiest gift guide around because it came straight from the people you are buying for! It is thoughtful (cue the “wow, I can’t believe you remembered!”), helpful and easier for you, and a win-win situation for all parties involved.
- DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
Things will go wrong during the holiday season, and that is okay. From awkward encounters with family or old acquaintances in your hometown to actually hosting an event like Christmas Eve or a Hanukkah party, worrying about perfection will only serve to stress you out. Remember that the holiday season is all about family no matter which holiday you celebrate, and chances are the people who are attending your events do not expect you to be Martha Stewart. Relax and enjoy the time you have with your loved ones! Don’t try to do too much to impress others and delegate when you can. Not only will delegating things like side dishes help you relax, it will also keep others involved in the preparation so the pressure isn’t all on you.
BONUS TIP FOR NEXT YEAR: Try making a few different side dishes before the holiday season next year and test them out to create a signature dish. It will be easy for you to make it every year, and your friends and family will look forward to it. Have the people around you taste test the recipes and establish yourself as the primary cookie baker or dip maker, and watch your loved ones eat it up (literally).
- MAINTAIN A HEALTHY BALANCE
Exercising and eating right can be a daunting task for most of us throughout the entire year, but it can be especially hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle during the holiday season. With the extensive food and drink selection that can be found at most holiday parties, it can be difficult not to get caught up in the decadence of desserts and the impulse to drink a little too much wine at a family event. Try to opt for whole foods, eat the salad first to fill up on nutrients before opting for the cookies and cake and eggnog, and exercise. Even just going on a walk before or after holiday meals will help, and you can use that time to catch up with the cousins that you only see once a year!
BONUS TIP FOR NEXT YEAR: Start early! Starting up an exercise regimen (even if it is just walking) two weeks before the start of the holidays will motivate you to keep up your schedule far more than if you try to start after a button-popping Thanksgiving meal. Keeping portions to a normal size and drinking water in between alcoholic drinks can help greatly as well.
- BUDGET, BUDGET, BUDGET!
It is great to be generous during the holiday season. Giving a great gift or helping out someone in need can keep your spirits lifted and your heart full, but is can be a major drain on your bank account. Keep a budget in mind and do not stray. If you celebrate Christmas, a very useful game within a large group of people is Secret Santa. You will only have to think about one person and one gift to present, so the task seems more manageable. Another fulfilling event can be volunteering at a homeless shelter or food bank. This can be done with family or friends and will help you be generous even on the most limited budget because it costs you nothing to give your time.
BONUS TIP FOR NEXT YEAR: Keep a holiday fund jar and allocate a certain amount of cash to put in per month. Take the 365-day challenge ($0.01 on day one, $0.02 on day two, etc., $3.65 on day 365), and you will have $667.95 to spend on friends and family when the holiday season rolls around! What a relief!
(for more information on this, visit http://truecouponing.com/penny-saving-challenge/ for a tutorial)
Holiday stress is a normal feeling that most of us have experienced, and these tips when followed should help keep the stress levels down. Anxiety disorders, depression, and Seasonal Affective Disorder can also take a toll on the well-being of people during the holidays in a real and serious way, so if you are experiencing more trouble than usual or would like to go over your options for therapy, don’t forget to reach out to one of our trained therapists today!
All the best,
The Center for Anxiety and Behavior Management Team