For a lot of us, this time of year conjures up warm and fuzzy memories of being with people we love, of cozy mornings sipping hot chocolate, of looking forward to opening gifts and revelling in the pleasure of giving.
However, this time of year can also—inevitably—come with some stress. The busy schedules, the endless task of things to do, the parties and concerts and places to go. It can be a lot.
Here are ten tips to help you stay stress-free and enjoy the best of the season so you can enjoy your family, be happy and maybe even get a little relaxation time into the mix.
1. Change your expectations. Don’t expect that this year will be different or better than the last. Decide to just accept what it is—for better or worse. Try to erase the images of years gone by, and start fresh. A new outlook can go a long way!
2. Don’t try to live up to others’ expectations. If you can’t afford to give large, expensive gifts, purchase a smaller, just-as-thoughtful gift. Or, if you feel up to it, make something yourself. These often make the most special gifts.
3. Wrap gifts as you get them. If you want to feel organized and in control, as well as freeing up some time, try wrapping gifts as you get them. This way, you can do a little wrapping at a time and won’t feel overwhelmed by the task. Just be sure to keep notes on which gift is which and who it’s for!
4. Change things up. If you’re just keeping up with old traditions for traditions’ sake and not because they feel good, then consider changing things up. Create new traditions. For example, if you’ve always hosted a big meal and prepared everything yourself, maybe consider a potluck dinner instead.
5. Toss obligatory chores. If you’ve been sending holiday greeting cards to the same people every year just because you feel a sense of obligation to do so, maybe don’t do it this year. Chances are, nobody will be offended and you’ll have one less thing to do! If you enjoy the yearly Christmas cards, find something else you can take of your to-do list. Not everything has to get done all at once. Find out what can wait, and make it wait.
6. Find a way around all the baking. If you love baking and don’t find it a chore, have at it! But if making all the cookies is another thing on your to-do list, find ways to get around it, without sacrificing the baking. Here are 4 hacks for holiday baking you might want to try.
7. Redefine giving. Instead of focusing on material gift-giving, discuss other options with your family. Here are some awesome and fun ways to give memories and experiences instead of gifts. Priceless.
8. Get some sleep. We know it can be hard, but try to remember how fantastic and wonderful it feels to get a really good night of sleep. It can be life-changing! Now imagine feeling that way all season. When you can, go to bed early and get all the rest you need so you can accomplish everything in a great mood.
9. Get your meals delivered. Even having just a couple of nights with no cooking can help a lot, but we don’t always want to go down the take-out route. Enter: the food delivery service! We love these options and we love the thought of ticking at least one dinner off our list.
10. See your therapist. Knowing the stress that this time of the year often brings, book an appointment with your therapist in advance of the holidays so that once the flurry of activity is over, you can vent to someone who can help.