As the fall fades away and we flip our calendars toward the holiday season, it can be easy to feel bombarded by a wave of different emotions. On the one hand, you may be happy to know the holidays are rolling around — allowing you to spend time with friends and loved ones — yet you may also dread the planning, entertaining, gift buying, and general tension this period briefly introduces into our lives. It is hard to find ways to reduce holiday stress over such a busy time of year.
If you struggle to balance the excitement and anxiety of planning and prepping this year, you’re not alone. Most women carry this double-edged sword during the holiday season. So, while we are glad to see our loved ones and catch up with friends, we will all join together in one huge collective sigh of relief once January rolls in.
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Fortunately, we don’t always have to let this stress get the better of us. While we cannot promise an anxiety-free holiday season, there are various ways to reduce holiday stress and be more present in the beautiful moments this period creates for us each year. So, to help those women who have been feeling a lot of pressure this winter, the team at Sass put together five fantastic tips to help keep your holiday stress at bay.
Make a Plan and Stick To It
One of the core reasons the holiday season often gets the better of us is that we fail to plan for it. This preparation failure is because we generally make the common mistake of thinking we have enough time to buy gifts, clean the house, invite people over, cook and bake, and RSVP to events. WRONG — if you’ve ever experienced an intense, eventful holiday season then you know there’s never enough time.
In most cases, once the first activity kicks in, your calendar becomes a winter snowball getting bigger and bigger before hurling out of control! To help prevent yourself from facing a massive avalanche of stress, we always suggest making a detailed list that includes everything you need to do during the holiday season. This action plan should have recipes, shopping lists, gift ideas, a schedule of events you will be attending and scheduled breaks for self care.
In addition to providing an overview of our holiday season tasks and activities, action plans also help keep our heads free of things to remember. With fewer bits of information running through your mind, you should feel less anxious and stressed and more focused, prepared and excited to cross items off your list.
Holiday season action plans have saved many women from that dreaded thought of having to cancel on their BFF because they double booked, or laying awake on Christmas Eve, or before the start of Chanukah, because they forgot a specific present. So, before the holiday season gets into full swing, make sure you craft a handy list that you can turn to when things get tough.
Your Happiness Matters Too
It is common to meet women who often put themselves last during the holiday season. This behavior may mean purchasing gifts for everyone, carving precious time out of their calendar to attend events, or standing over a pot for several hours to make a family recipe. While there is nothing wrong with caring for your loved ones, you must treat yourself properly as well.
When is comes to ways to reduce holiday stress, you have to prioritize yourself sometimes. Still have that spa gift card from last year? Go ahead — turn off your phone (and your mind) and take a few hours for you! See a pretty dress that would make a fantastic addition to your wardrobe? Buy it and wear it to your next event! Self-care is excellent at boosting our moods and providing a lift to carry us through the holiday season. Treating yourself and ensuring you are happy should also mean getting sleep, exercising, and making sure you don’t skip meals.
Also, be sure to give yourself a little present after a long day. This reward may mean rewatching your favorite movie or soaking in a bath as you unwind. You may also choose to break a soon-to-be new year’s resolution by diving headfirst into that delicious bowl of ice cream lingering in the freezer. In either case, make sure you acknowledge your day was tough and celebrate getting through it successfully.
While choosing your happiness over others may mean saying no to particular activities, you will feel much better in the long run. And remember — there’s always time after the holidays to meet up with friends or happy hour with colleagues.
Don’t Forget a Budget
One of the biggest stressors during the holidays is finances. During this period, you may start questioning whether you have saved enough to get all the gifts you want or whether you will end up in the red by January first.
While it’s easy to close your eyes, cross your fingers and hope everything goes according to plan, the only way to be confident your money will last is by crafting a budget. One of the simplest options is to list all the items you plan to purchase and total up that cost. Once you have an understanding of the overall costs, you can adjust your lists.
If you discover the total cost is less than what you have in the bank you have nothing to fear and can carry on with your holiday spending. Alternatively, if the total cost of your items will mean dipping into the negatives, don’t panic just yet. Remember, the goal of making a budget is getting an overview of spending to help brainstorm ways to reduce cost. Look through your list again. Is there any item you don’t really need? Remove it and recalculate the total price. Keep doing this until you’re back in the green. If you have removed all you can and are still in the red, don’t fret.
Head back into your list and look through your gift ideas. Can you give one shirt instead of two? What about buying tickets to the matinee instead of the evening production? Can you give someone the gift of time instead of a material gift? Like offering to sit their kids so they can have a night out? Is there someone who could go in on a gift with you thus splitting the cost? If so, don’t be afraid to make some concessions. There is no need to splurge during the holiday season if you will end up struggling until spring. Handling your holiday budget early is one of the best ways to reduce holiday stress.
Remember That Perfection is Not Necessary
We all crave perfection in everything we do. Naturally, there is no better time to display that perfection than the holiday season. This period allows us to showcase our skills in picking out the most thoughtful gifts, planning unforgettable events, and cooking the tastiest dishes.
Unfortunately, this need to deliver on all aspects often generates high levels of holiday stress. The image of seeing a loved one fake a smile as they unwrap a gift or burning the chicken at the family dinner is enough to send shivers down the spine of anyone who craves perfection.
However, you must remember that perfection is not as necessary as it may seem. Your friends and loved ones should appreciate you for who you are, not what you can give them. If you struggle with perfection during the holiday season, we suggest speaking with your partner or a licensed therapist. Together, both of you can work on healthy coping mechanisms to help manage your inner perfectionist or critic.
Maintain a Bold Mindset and Focus on The Good Things
Nothing reminds us as much as the holiday season that (some) family is best loved from a distance. While having them around can always be a blast as you get the chance to reminisce about old times and create fantastic new moments, most of us have some family members we don’t see eye-to-eye with. This hostility may be because they tend to ask annoying personal questions or make rude remarks about our lifestyle.
Knowing you will face such conflict each year weighs on our minds long before the holiday season starts. However, it does not have to be this way. Remember that the holiday seasons are a time of joy and enjoyment, and you must never let anybody take that away from you.
Prepare your mindset before the big family event by understanding these individuals are out to cause you stress. Mental preparation should provide solid ground that will help keep you firm in the face of anything thrown your way. Find and repeat a mantra to center and calm you, and let their comments roll off your back. Embrace those who bring you joy. Step outside and steady yourself whenever you need a mental break and above all else be kind to yourself!
It can be easy to believe the holiday season is a long and drawn-out period. A typical family get-together lasts just as long as any random Tuesday on our calendars. So, before you know it, the day should be over, and you can continue with all the other fun activities you have planned for the holiday and winter season.