Although the holidays come around every year, they still manage to sneak up on us. What can be a time of joy and family often becomes a month of stress. Take back the holidays this year with our strategies for dealing with common holiday stressors.
Money is a top stressor any time of year, but more so during the holidays. Finding the perfect gift for everyone, hosting family gatherings and traveling near and far, can put a dent in anyone’s budget.
- Strategy - This year, keep your spending from reaching new heights by setting a budget early. Sit down and prioritize what you want to spend money on this year. If you really want to travel to see relatives, maybe skip the New Year’s trip to the snow. And make a list before you shop — with both ideas and dollar limits. That way, you’ll avoid the guesswork and spending extra when shopping.
Priorities. Trying to manage and fit in every family tradition can be time consuming and emotionally stressful. It’s easy to feel that the holiday will be ruined if you don't stick to every tradition you have started over the years.
- Strategy - Make a list of all the activities you and your family normally do. Then have each family member choose one tradition that they especially love and want to do this year. You’ll end up with a shorter list that makes everyone happy. Remind yourself that you can say no to invitations and activities that you don’t want to do. A night in with board games and friends is just as festive as a big party or traveling out of your way for a tree lighting ceremony.
Gifts. Finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list sometimes makes this part of the holiday season feel like a chore, and brings the Grinch out in all of us.
- Strategy - Try picking a theme for your holiday gift giving. Are you a family of readers? A thoughtfully chosen book or magazine subscription is a great personal gift idea, plus you can cross off your whole list in a single online shopping session.
Celebrations. Between more dining out and holiday parties, the prospect of weight gain can end up stressing you out every time there is food available, and put a damper on your time with friends and family.
- Strategy - Don't eat something just because it is festive. Indulge only in the dishes that you look forward to all year, skip the ones that don’t do anything for you — like cookies you don’t really care for or extra helpings to make the cook happy. Then you’ll have room for roasted veggies and lean protein. The holiday season is also an excuse to break out alcohol with every meal. Combat this by volunteering to be the sober driver or replacing champagne with bubbly water. Having a plan can help you enjoy all of the yummy holiday food without worrying about taking off holiday pounds come January!
Travel. Traveling during the holiday season is hectic at best and a nightmare at worst. For those who have to travel, the very idea can become a source of stress even before the holiday season has begun.
- Strategy - Book your travel plans early to get the best rates and eliminate the stress of not getting a flight or bus ticket. Decide ahead of time if you are going to arrange for a ride to the airport or station or leave your car in long term parking and don't forget to make plans for your return journey. Giving yourself plenty of time to travel and check in at the airport or station is also important. Holiday travel may always be hectic but this strategy can make it less stressful.
Now’s the time to set your holiday game plan. A bit of advance planning can be the stress antidote that transforms the holidays from a time to get through to a time your truly enjoy. Give it a try!