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Help with Holiday StressThe holidays are here.  This is the merriest – and most stressful – time of the year for most of us.  We wait all year for the festivities.  We stand in line for just the right presents. We deck the halls and trim the tree. We optimistically plan perfect family gatherings.  Everything sparkles and glimmers. But, it all comes with a price.  And the price is STRESS!  We are tired.  We are overwhelmed with long to-do lists.  We are juggling dozens of commitments. Here are some tips to help you capture the joy of the season without the drama and stress:

1. Manage Expectations.  This will NOT be the year when you host the perfect Rockwellian family Christmas dinner.  Why?  Because you are not perfect and neither is your family.  Perfect isn’t possible.  And, more importantly, perfect isn’t necessary.  Set aside perfectionism and allow the season to unfold just the way it does – burnt rolls, crabby relatives, and all.

2. Set Priorities.  You CANNOT do it all.  You can’t attend every event, have the best light display on the block, bake a thousand perfect cookies AND create a storybook Christmas morning for your children.  Decide what is important to you.   This is YOUR life.  There is no requirement that you keep any traditions that are not meaningful to your family. Do what matters and let the rest go. 

3. Take care of YOU. This is not the time to shortchange your self-care.  Get enough sleep.  Eat right.  Spend some time sitting quietly. Hit the gym.  The most valuable resource you have for building a terrific holiday is YOU – healthy, relaxed, and well-rested. Try extra hard to continue doing all of the things that keep you sane the rest of the year.  

4. Watch the Bottom Line.  Make a budget and stick to it!  Nothing causes more post-holiday stress than mountains of bills piling up.  Reduce your anxiety now – and next January – by sticking to what you can afford.  

5. Stay Present.  We can get so caught up in trying to cram in as much “fun” as possible that we rob ourselves of the pleasure of the present moment. Savor the quiet moments alone with your loved ones.  Relax into the present moment and allow the future, the past, the worries, the to do list, the expectations all to slip onto the back burner. 

6. Cultivate Gratitude.  Remember all the wonderful things you have to be thankful for right now.  Take time to list all of the ways you are ALREADY blessed. It is so easy to get  focused on what we want and forget all about what we already have. A great antidote to this is to spend some time volunteering.  Reaching out to others in need helps us keep our own life in perspective.

7. Find Meaning.  We can counteract some of the season’s commercialism – and the cynicism that comes with it – by focusing on the deeper, more spiritual aspects of the season.  Reflect on the spiritual traditions you associate with this time of year.  Which are still meaningful to you? This is a great time to reconnect with the spiritual side of yourself.  Find ways to honor that part of you.

It IS possible to stay sane and healthy during this glittering, festive, busy season.  Hopefully these tips will help you achieve that wonderful balance of joy and peace that we all long for this time of year.

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