How to Reduce Stress over the Holidays

If you spend the holiday season rushing about like a panicked lemming, it’s time to apply some time management strategies.
For many, the holiday season is the season of stress. There are just so many things to do, and a limited time to do them in. Working people may feel especially harassed, trying to cram holiday activities into their already limited “leisure” time.
If you’re one of those people feeling more frazzled than festive, taking the time to use a few time management strategies can really reduce stress over the holidays and you’ll feel as if you’re in control.

1) Make a list.
Divide a page into two columns. List the things you have to do to prepare for the holiday season, such as gift shopping, on one side of the page and the things you want to do, such as special holiday baking, on the other side of the page.

2) Pick and choose your holiday activities.
Many of us do what we do during the holiday season just because we always have, turning the entire month of December into a mad whirl of non-stop holiday preparations and activities. If the things on your list that you have to do outnumber the things that you want to do, it’s time to make your list more manageable by eliminating some of these holiday activities.

3) Get an early start.
There’s no rule that says that all holiday activities have to be crammed into one week. You can decorate your home for the holiday season in November if you want. Food for the holiday season can be bought in advance, and gifts can be bought any time of year.

4) Get help.
Who says that you personally have to do all the baking, and/or do all the holiday season decorating? This year, give yourself the gift of holiday stress relief by patronizing a local bakery, hiring a cleaning service to clean your home, or even having your holiday season party or festive dinner catered. Think about how much your time (and sanity) is worth, and contract out accordingly.

5) Avoid rushing around in a holiday frenzy.
To reduce stress, pre-plan and coordinate your journeys. You can easily combine running errands with shopping, for example, so why make separate trips? And why go shopping 10 or 12 times? Use your list and make your calls to cut down on the hours you need to spend shopping.

6) Turn chores into events.
Everyone finds some holiday season activities that have to be done drudgery. Make whatever it is you find drudgery more enjoyable by making it special and different.

7) Build time to relax and enjoy the festive season into your schedule.
Take the time to drive around and enjoy the incredible displays of holiday lights, attend a special holiday concert, make snow angels with the kids, or just take a long hot bath. Your holiday stress will drop considerably.

By Susan Ward