The holiday season is the most wonderful (and busy) time of year. While the season means plenty of quality time spent with loved ones, it can also bring chaos and stress when it comes to buying gifts, coordinating travel and planning family functions. Luckily, there are some simple ways to tackle the holidays with confidence. I am not a master of this, but its fair to say I have had my fair share of holiday drama in the course of my lifetime. And add to that other stressors like financial costs of the holidays, family coming to visit, and the stress of having it all together.
We can’t all be Martha Stewart, so let’s get real. What do you grapple with during the holidays? Not enough time? What are the “Safe” topics to discuss this season? It could be overwhelming. Listed below are my tips that I use year after year and they seem to work for me. Hope they can help you as well!
Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Season
Remember what the holidays are really about. Spending quality time with family, friends and loved ones. It’s about giving love and joy to others. Watch your expectation; make sure they are realistic. We try for perfection during the holidays and we tend to forget what the holidays are really about. Remind yourself that the holidays are about being close to your loved ones while everything else comes second.
Grab a friend. If you consider writing and addressing holiday cards to be more tedious than fun, don’t trudge through the process alone. Invite friends over for an evening of card pooling, gift wrapping or cookie baking. With a bottle of wine and more than a few laughs, the task will be an easy and enjoyable one to cross off your list.
Keep a stash of gifts. Chances are you’ll need some last-minute gifts, either for an unannounced guest or for friends who extend 11th-hour invitations. Stock up on a few items that would appeal to almost everyone. Here are some of my favorites.
Make Space. Having a clean work space, a clean house, and a tidy apartment really hales clear your mind. I just finished a big clean out with Spacelift and have never felt lighter and better about the space I live in. I have literally donated bags and bags of goods, sold a lot of unwanted goods, and just de-cluttered my space. Don’t save those chores for the beginning of next year. Do it now. It’s a life-changer for sure!
Tip Smartly. Put gratuities into personalized cards. Amounts vary by region and length of service. Here are some basic guidelines: cleaning person, one week’s pay; newspaper carrier, up to $30; babysitter, one night of sitting, plus a gift from your children. Check out the ABCs of holiday tipping
Practice Gratitude. This is the time of year that we should spend more time counting our blessings, remembering what we have instead of worrying about what we don’t. Instead of “Keeping up with the Jones’s,” take a minute to appreciate the abundance of love, health, family, and friends. They should know that the most important things in life are the things that make us the happiest: good relationships with family and friends, a partner we can share our life with, and a full schedule of social activities that involve lots of smiling and laughing.
Master the fine art of conversation. I recently read the article about Mastering the Art of Conversation in the NY Times, and here’s what I got out of it. The secret to bring a good conversationalist, says Terry Gross, is curiosity. “A common thread that can help you having a conversation, even with a stranger, is being genuine curious, and wanting to hear what the other person is telling you.” If you think about it, it’s easy to talk about the weather, but moving away from that is a challenge I want to try to meet.
Take a walk. Focus on what really matters: When I make time for family, friends, exercise and sleep, my mood is one hundred times better. Taking the time to unwind is so helpful — I like to take walks with my family or even just snuggle in bed with a cup of tea! Take some time to slow down, breathe and remember this time of year is about the people you love.
Unwind. During the merry mayhem of cocktail parties and shopping-mall jaunts, it’s important to enjoy some peace and quiet every so often. Before your schedule fills up, pencil in a few personal hours (or even days). Solidifying the plans, whether buying advance tickets to an afternoon movie, going to the spa, or making an appointment for a manicure, ensures that the much-needed downtime won’t be passed over for more-pressing errands.
Fly lightly. Traveling for the holidays? Airport security is not fun and adding the extra long lines during the holidays is even worse. It’s better to prepare yourself than be disappointed. I am heading to Chile and Patagonia at the end of December and am going to pack super light.
And finally, listen to your body. If you are noticing any of the following signs then it’s time to make changes: Any change in sleeping or eating habits. Exhaustion and fatigue. Or panic attack symptoms like dizziness, heavy chest, heart racing, or flashes. These symptoms are all warning signs of too much stress and anxiety in our life. This is a sign to slow down and take a time out.
Happy Holidays !