The last quarter of the year comes with festive food, parties, presents, and, all too often, holiday stress! Fall and winter can be incredibly busy for most people. And while the busyness can be exhilarating, it can also be overwhelming which then leads to tension, fatigue, and burn out.
The good news is that are some practical ways to recapture the magic of the holidays. And not only that, you can be proactive this year by being intentional in putting a buffer between you and stress. The kind of stress that stems from trying to do too much, spending more than you have, and trying to keep up with Pinterest perfection.
So, let’s jump right into this list and plan on have a merry and stress-free holiday season this year!
10 Actionable Ways to Eliminate Holiday Stress
1. Make a List
Planning is essential to success in just about every area of life. But sometimes those plans are jumbled up in our heads. Between trying to remember what’s for supper and when books are due back to the library, it can be overwhelming. The simple solution to all of this mental clutter is to MAKE A LIST!
Writing out those tasks into list form is helpful for keeping stress at bay. Whether it’s getting presents for the kiddos or throwing an Ugly Sweater Party for your friends, trying to manage all of those tasks in your head can be too much.
Instead, offload all of those Christmas to-do items onto a list. You can go old school and just use pen and paper, or you can open up a note on your phone and store the info there. It doesn’t really matter where you write it as long as you get it out of your head.
2. Break it Down
While making a list is a great way to beat holiday stress, believe it or not, there is a right and wrong way to make a list. Sometimes we’re overwhelmed because we’ve not taken the time to break tasks down into smaller tasks.
Writing down, “Buy presents” is a good start. But, “buy presents” for who, where, and how much? Break those big, chunky Christmas to-do items down into simple actionable steps.
3. Set a Gift Limit
Everyone loves getting gifts, yet, unbelievably, gifts can easily become a source of stress. When there aren’t guidelines on how many presents to buy, who’s buying for who, and how much will be spent, there’s bound to be problems.
The best solution is to set gift limits. When you do, you’re simply establishing expectations. When everyone is on the same page about how many gifts will be given and how much will be spent per gift, the chances of gift-related stress are greatly reduced.
4. Start a Holiday Journal
The last quarter of the year is always so busy. Between the parties, the planning, the shopping, and the food, there’s enough to overload anyone. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of it all, it’s important to remember what really matters, get back to basics, and cut out some of the noise.
Presents are great and who doesn’t love a big Christmas ham? But, we need to be reminded that those things are not what it’s all about.
One of the best ways to slow down is to create a holiday journal. Jot down all of the things that you’re thankful for this year and try and capture the highlights of everything going on. The great thing is that once you start this tradition, you can make reading past entries as a part of your holiday routine.
5. Don’t Shoot for Perfection
We’re planners around here. We love spreadsheets, calendars, and putting things into binders. But for all of that planning, life happens! No matter what you do, nothing will be perfect…whatever that looks like.
A lot of frustration comes from unplanned events that sneak in and blow up our well-thought-out plans. Letting go of our idea of the perfect Christmas dinner, or the perfect holiday outfit, or the perfect decorated house isn’t easy. But, learning to expect the unexpected, is key. Plan, prepare, but let go of the ideal of perfection and enjoy the beauty that can be found in imperfect things.
6. Give Back
One of the best ways to reduce stress of anything, including holiday stress, is to get some perspective. When we’re in our little bubbles, we forget that there’s a world out there of hurting people that are stressing out over much bigger problems.
To gain perspective, give back! Get connected with a local church, food bank, or charity that helps the poor and needy during this time of the year. When you give back, you realize how much you already have. You’ll see how small your problems really are. And, you’ll gain a new appreciation for the simple things of life.
7. Use Creativity Instead of Money
It’s far too easy to live as though money is the cure for what ails you. We cannot deny that money is a tool but it’s not always the right tool. Focusing less on solutions that money can buy and more on your own creativity can actually make things more memorable.
For example: instead of buying a lavish Christmas dinner yourself, consider hosting a pot luck dinner. Sure, it may not be as cohesive of a meal, but everyone gets the chance to share their specialty dish. Rather than buying expensive decorations, why not make them and turn it into a family activity?
The point is that money alone isn’t always the answer and the stress created by holiday related debt follow you well into the New Year.
8. Don’t Copy Others
Holiday stress is the real deal, but it’s compounded by the fear of not matching up to others. And, that fear is brought closer home by the constant contact we have with others through social media.
During this time of the year, it may be helpful to take a break from Pinterest and Instagram, or, in the least, limit your time on those sites. It’s also helpful to realize trying to keep up with the latest trends isn’t really worth it! It’s expensive, exhausting, and ultimately unattainable.
9. Don’t Do Too Much
Social media can be great, but it does have the unfortunate side effect of creating a lot of FOMO, and, in turn, stress! There’s not only pressure to have the latest décor, throw trendy parties, and give our kids the hottest gifts, but there’s also the pressure to do everything.
We love a good seasonal bucket list, but sometimes even that can be a bit overwhelming. The key is to limit yourself. Pick 3 – 4 activities for example. And, think about making some activities a family tradition. It could be apple picking, pumpkin carving, or making gingerbread cookies, the important thing is to make it about the family and not worry about the things you didn’t check off your list.
10. Don’t Become the Grinch
There’s a temptation to do too much. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s also the temptation to do nothing at all by swearing off the holidays altogether!
We’ve all felt like throwing up our hands and calling it quits occasionally. You would think that doing nothing at all to celebrate the holidays would be the best way to reduce stress. But that may not be so.
Turning into the Grinch, may feel good for a while, but it can separate you from others which is the opposite intention of the season. The key is to find a balance and focus on doing the right amount of activities and spending an appropriate amount on gifts. The line isn’t always clear and won’t be the same for everyone. The important thing is to strive for a healthy balance.
We love the whole Christmas season, and we know you do too! But as we’ve discussed it can be a bit much. This time of year should be about family, love, and counting our blessings. Hopefully something on our list will help you reduce stress and enjoy the holidays more this year than ever before.