How to Manage Your Holiday Stress

Holidays can be a stressful time for many people – especially if you are hosting! The demands on our time increase significantly in the run up to the holidays with shopping, parties, cooking, cleaning, and entertaining kicking into high gear and consuming what little time we have left after all the other day to day stuff is complete. And it doesn’t stop there – lots of us feel greater financial and emotional stress during the holidays too – spending money we may not have or managing the in-laws for an extended period of time!

Here are a few tips to help you manage your stress and, dare I say, even look forward too and enjoy your holiday season!

MANAGE YOUR TIME: Plan ahead and get it done early! Make sure you set aside time to do your shopping, cooking and entertaining in advance. Last minute gift or grocery shopping can lead to panic and increased stress. Pull out your calendar and mark down when you plan to get stuff done. Be sure to plan activities around your day to day schedule to avoid conflicts, and coordinate help well before an event takes place.

DON’T SPEND IMPULSIVELY: Take a look at your finances and determine a budget based on what you can afford. Due to the current economic climate this may well be different from last year. Many people are cutting back and this doesn’t have to be a bad thing – it is after all the thought that counts! If you need to cut back, tell the family and suggest doing a “Secret Santa” this year or get in touch with your creative side and try some home-made gifts. Most importantly, if you have a budget, stick to it!

SET BOUNDARIES: It is important that around the holidays you learn to say “no!” With the increased demands you are already overwhelmed – taking on anything extra will add further unwelcome stress. You do not have to do everything for everybody. You do have the right to choose how your holidays will play out! Only do those things that you need to do and respectfully decline the rest. These will keep you busy enough.

ASK FOR HELP: You do not have to do it alone! If you are hosting, make sure everyone brings a dish (or a drink!) and that family members have a role in the preparation, duration and clean-up. You are not super-human and deserve to enjoy the holidays too. Ask your spouse to assist in the shopping, cooking and entertaining where needed and be clear about what it is you are asking for.

HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: Things will not be perfect or run smoothly all of the time. There will be fights, disappointments and frustration – and you can’t control it! Instead of trying to predict and arbitrate every potential dispute or issue that may arise, take a step back and let the adults work it out for themselves. You are not the holiday police! Equally so, if the meat is overcooked or someone forgot a dish, put in perspective and move on – the holidays are not ruined!

ACCEPT FAMILY MEMBERS AS THEY ARE: There is no denying that some family members can be very challenging during the holidays. As tempting as it may be to address the error of their ways or get worked up about their last comment, try to see the funny side (if there is one) or step outside and take a breath of fresh air and put it in perspective. We all have our quirks, some good, others not so good. Try to focus on the positive attributes each family member brings to the holiday and not on the negative ones. Set aside differences or disputes for another day, and be tolerant of others stress (chances are you know how they feel!)

ADJUST TO CHANGE: As children grow-up, family members move out of town and loved ones pass away, the holidays will evolve. Identify a few of your favorite traditions that you can replicate each year and then embrace the change that time brings. New traditions and memories will be created that will prove to be equally as thrilling as those that came before.

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