How To Avoid Holiday Stress

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Knowing how to avoid holiday stress allows you to experience the traditions your family enjoys without the strain of trying to please everyone. If past years have left you feeling like Scrooge, these tips for a stress-free Christmas can rekindle your joy.

6 Tips to Avoid Holiday Stress

How to Avoid Holiday Stress - Christmas baubles on a plain background

The thing is, no one wants to have a stressful holiday season. It just kind of creeps up and overwhelms you. One day you’re sipping cocoa and wrapping gifts by the fire, and the next you’re hip-checking some little old lady who was about to reach for the last must-have toy on the shelf.

In this Pinterest-ing world in which we live, there’s enormous pressure to create a picture-perfect holiday. We’re urged to shop for thoughtful gifts and bake homemade goodies fro scratch. We’re encouraged to not only wrap gifts uniquely, but coordinate them with our home decor, too.

Oh, and somehow every day we’re supposed to find a new place to shove that darned Elf on a Shelf.

It’s no wonder we sometimes get a bit crazy. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can create a beautiful stress-free holiday season for your family without losing your mind. Read on.

Choose One Must-Do Event

We all have different holiday traditions. For some, it’s attending the school’s holiday program. For others, it’s letting the kids wear pajamas in the car while driving around to see Christmas lights. Others bring out their grandmother’s menorah and cook from her cherished recipe box. (Related: Cleaning for the Holidays.)

To have a stress-free holiday season, figure out your must-do event, the one that missing out on would leave your family saying that it just doesn’t feel like the holidays.

Make that the one non-negotiable activity you plan everything else around, so you’ve got enough time, energy, and enthusiasm to enjoy it thoroughly. Put it on your calendar and try to keep the entire rest of that day free of other social commitments.

Never More than Two Events in a Row

There are, of course, some social commitments you cannot skip. The kids’ schools will have holiday programs. Maybe they’re in recitals, too. There are also virtually mandatory office parties. The rest? It’s negotiable.

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A good rule of thumb for having a stress-free Christmas season is to make sure you don’t schedule activities three nights in a row.

So if you’re going on Monday to Chelsea’s ballet recital and Tuesday to Jaden’s school pageant, plan to stay home on Wednesday night. No one else can see what’s on your calendar, so decline invitations by explaining, “we’re busy that evening, but will be there in spirit.”

Use your commitment-free night to wrap presents, play board games, or watch movies with the kids. The downtime will do you all good.

Stop Being So Thoughtful

How many times have you scoured stores and browsed the boutiques in search of the perfect gift for someone, only for it to receive a lukewarm reception? It turns out that kind of effort is a complete waste of time.

No matter what the Christmas movies (and magazine articles and Pinterest) say, our loved ones don’t want “thoughtful” gifts. What they appreciate is receiving the things they’ve asked for.

For a stress-free holiday season, don’t just have the kids write lists for Santa. Ask your spouse, your in-laws, and your friends to do it, too. Or look them up on Amazon — you don’t even have to know their size since it’s already on their Wish List. Plus, you’ll have the confidence of knowing you’re giving them something they genuinely want.

Don’t Try to Do It All

Holiday magic comes from making memories together. It’s not created by slaving over cookies or finding gift wrap that matches your home decor. Focus on the reason for the season rather than trying to impress.

  • Buy pies and other sweets from a local bakery instead of making them from scratch.
  • Let the mall’s gift-wrapping service deal with the paper and bows.
  • Throw one inclusive holiday party for neighbors, coworkers, friends, and family instead of hosting separate events.
  • Schedule family-only nights at home, so you all have a chance to slow down and still make happy memories.
  • Arrange to meet up with friends shortly after the holidays. You can still celebrate the season that way, but you’ll all feel so much less pressure.

Schedule Daily “Me Time”

It’s easy to forget about your own comfort and joy when you’re busy making the holidays memorable for others. But wearing yourself out does no one any good — especially if you get so worn down that you get sick.

Make a point to schedule “me time” every day without fail. Try giving yourself a mani/pedi or taking a long bath by candlelight. Maybe one afternoon, curl up for a half-hour with a good book and a cup of tea. Or go for a long walk in the park, just you and the dog.

The important thing is to get some alone time so you can re-energize. By giving yourself the gift of “me time,” you’ll be more able to provide joy to others and you’ll experience less stress during the holidays.

Know Your Limits

The real secret to a stress-free holiday season is understanding that you have a finite amount of time and energy each day.

Spend your time on things that give you and your family joy then let go of the rest, so you can avoid holiday stress while making beautiful memories you’ll all cherish.

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