Patricia Lee LLC
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Holiday Stress Relief

How To Make Your Holidays Low-Stress And Enjoyable!

Holiday celebrations each year generally entail a huge amount of co-ordination along a number of issues, such as shopping and gifts, family get-togethers and food. Each one of these has its own unique challenges and can cause a great deal of holiday stress - particularly if you're the one who does most of the organizing and preparation. Let's look at ways to minimize your stress in these areas.

Shopping and Gifts

Reducing holiday stress by shopping online is both a time saver and a way to find great deals. You'll be able to find almost everything you would at malls and big box stores. A big advantage is that many websites will give you free shipping, often delivering in days. To take maximum advantage of this, instead of getting your items delivered to you, you could have them delivered to the recipient, with a special note to open on the big day. This isn't the most personal approach but many people find this perfectly acceptable these days.

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If you're shopping in person, why not do it when the crowds are at their smallest? Early in the day is best and I've found Monday mornings to be particularly good days to shop when others are out recuperating after the big weekend rush. And if you're stuck for that perfect gift there's nothing more special than a handmade "just for you kind of gift". Perhaps a family photo album, a collection of handwritten poetry, a framed art creation from your children, a certificate to wash a car, shovel snow or to bake a pie once a month. The possibilities are endless and so personal. Of course, you can also go the gift card route, perhaps even re-gifting unused certificates you received on another occasion.

Family and Get-Togethers

Got a big family gathering planned? While it's usually great to catch up, sometimes these can be a real pain. A lot of people means a lot of opportunity for conflict, so don't get drawn into feuds that aren't yours. Sometimes those involved will urge you to take a side. Don't. Kids seem to get the whole holiday get-together, so take your cue from them. They just seem to overlook any problems, and enjoy being all together.

And those kids…take it easy on them. All the late nights and activities can take a toll as well. Instead of getting angry over their loud behavior or quarreling, maybe it's time for quiet activity, or perhaps an early night to catch-up on some sleep. Or perhaps it's just time to say no to some activities or events. Have a family meeting and decide which events the whole family is interested in attending or needs to make an appearance at and which can be optional for various family members.

Be aware of when all the hustle and bustle is becoming too much. If you're feeling tired, stressed and out of sorts there's a good chance your kids are too. Ask yourself this question…what do I want my kids to remember about this holiday? A great time had by all, or me running around in a frenzy hosing down spilled eggnog and cranberry sauce!

All That Food

Overeating and drinking can make you sluggish, and even kind of low or out of sorts the following day, so be choosy as you tour buffet tables. Eat small portions of those yummy but artery clogging treats and drink in moderation. Take it easy, sample everything you like in small amounts, and really savor slowly what's on offer. Remember…gorging doesn't equal enjoyment.

All the running around and organizing during holidays makes it easy to skip meals, leaves you feeling stressed, and before long you're not sleeping well either. How about preparing some food ahead of time and putting it in the freezer? Or having on hand the fixings for nice green salads that include protein sources? Try out these ideas for quick, simple yet healthy meals.

The possibilities are really endless if you just pick up a few items at the grocery to have on hand for those times you need to eat a little something that's healthy just to tide you over until the party. If you don't arrive starved you are more likely to go easy on the munchies.

And get enough sleep. The marathons of cooking, shopping, parties and concerts will deplete your ability to handle stress, so pace yourself. Learn to read your own symptoms of stress, and allow time for relaxing. You'll find you'll be much more effective if you do.

Getting Organized

Maybe some extra help is what you need. How about giving your older kids or the kids next door an opportunity to earn a few extra bucks by paying them to help you do the deep cleaning before the big party or to help clean up after? If the younger kids are getting in the way when you're trying to shop, wrap presents or cook, how about doing a swap with a neighbor or friend, so you both have some 'alone' time to get things done? Instead of baking all those cookies and Christmas treats by yourself try a cookie exchange with a group of friends and schedule it around the date of that office Christmas party you're having at your house.

Holidays can be expensive - and you can avoid or alleviate the worry of paying for it all by planning your holiday like you would your normal expenses. If you don't have enough cash to meet your budget, you can choose to lower your budget, or plan for some small debt. If you have to go into debt, plan well ahead for paying it off. Better yet, stick to your smaller budget and go with some of those personal, thoughtful and inexpensive gift ideas.

Managing holiday stress may be as easy as staying in touch with your family and friends by sending them all a 'template' letter. Enter names and addresses into your computer and you can even print your envelopes to send your letter - letting everyone know about the year you've had. They are not exactly the personal handwritten note we all like to receive but times are changing and it's only natural for us to change with them. You might even consider sending Thanksgiving greetings instead just to spread out the labor.

The way you've celebrated Christmas or Hanukah in the past doesn't mean you have to do it that way all the time. New traditions can be created as simply as old ones can be broken - changing times may mean more fun and a better and easier way to do things. For example, instead of having a big feast for 50 people, why not try smaller group get-togethers through Christmas week? And don't try to make things PERFECT! This is a huge cause for stress. Is anyone really going to notice the slightly lop-sided tree, or a slightly crunchy sugar cookie?

Finally, set yourself a timeline to follow a few days before the day you entertain. This will allow you some leeway (just in case), and it means you'll be ready and relaxed to fully enjoy all your hard work and spend time with your loved ones.

What happens when it's all over?

It all happens in a flurry, then…it's all over. The gifts are opened, the guests are gone, you're tired of the leftovers, and you're feeling tired, maybe even experiencing some depression or feeling let down. How about planning something special to do soon after? Maybe enjoying the outdoors, hunkering down with a good book, taking the dog on extra long walks while you have time off or planning some redecorating as you put away the candles, throw away the poinsettias and box up all the trinkets.

Perhaps you feel energized, ready to put the holiday season behind you and move on to the new year. Get a head start and go to the office for a couple of hours or days when no one is there. You'll get a lot done with no distractions or phone calls and can start your new year with a clean desk and fresh "to do" list.

Make this the year you change up your holiday routine to make it more satisfying and pleasurable and less stressed. Remember these simple holiday stress tips: eat well, drink little, rest, plan ahead, say no when you need to say no, and say yes to doing things differently when you need to.

Happy holidays!