Take the Stress Out of Christmas
It’s so tempting to try to fit everything into the Christmas season: entertaining, quality time with family, concerts, decorating, baking, sending cards—it’s no wonder that anticipation for the season can be tinged with a little trepidation, too. It can be a stressful time, simply because it’s so busy, or because it reminds you of friends and family who can’t be with you.
Think of what might be major stressors for you over the holiday season, and try to head them off well before the holiday approaches. Above all, remember that the Christmas season is about goodwill, togetherness, and hope. It’s not about being everything to everyone, and it’s not about perfection. Try these tips to help you cope.
Gifts can be tricky things. We all love to give and receive over the holidays, but it’s easy to go overboard or to feel overwhelmed at the sheer number of gifts that need to be purchased. If this is your situation, talk to friends and family members about changing the way that you approach gifts this year.
Options include setting price limits on gifts; buying only for the children in your extended family, rather than everyone; drawing names within a circle of friends or family to buy a gift for one person, rather than for everyone; and even agreeing to go out for a holiday meal (perhaps in January, when everyone needs a pick-me-up) in lieu of buying gifts. You can also suggest making contributions to charity instead of giving gifts.
If you have a talent for arts or crafts-beadwork, jewelry, scrapbooking. painting, picture framing, carpentry, stained glass, knitting, embroidery, sewing, or metalwork. for example-home-made gifts may be part of the answer. Start well ahead of time, however, to avoid putting too much stress on yourself close to Christmas.
Christmas morning can come way too early for many parents of young children. Keep them occupied first thing by letting them open their stockings while still in bed, as long as they know that the presents under the tree have to stay unmolested until you get up!
Shop like Santa: Make a list and check it twice. If you start with a list and a budget, you can easily see how your budget divides between each person. To make things easier for yourself, choose the same kind of gift for certain people (e.g., teachers, letter carriers, etc.): gift cards to local coffee shops, for example, or small baskets from gourmet food stores.
Check store flyers, the Internet, and catalogs for ideas and prices so you can narrow down what you’re looking for and figure out what’s good value (and what’s not). Once you’re ready to shop, check that you have your list in hand, comfy shoes on your feet, and a place to take a break when you get tired. Shop the malls early in the day to beat the crowds, and stick to your list.
The same goes for grocery shopping: Make a list, double check it, and then hit the supermarket while it’s still quiet. If it’s faster for you to shop alone, make sure that you ask someone at home to be there when you return to help you unload.
Add batteries to your list, for toys, cameras, and other holiday items. And, if it’s possible that people might present you with gifts that you’re not expecting, add a couple of versatile “just-in-case” items that you can gift wrap. Gourmet food or chocolates work well for both men and women, and if you don’t use them as gifts, you can enjoy them yourself in January!
Reduce Your Load
Do you really need to send cards to everyone on your list? Or invite twenty people to an elaborate holiday party? Take a look at what you expect of yourself during the holidays, and consider either cutting down on the volume or cutting certain items out completely.
For example, why not decorate only one room—say, the living room where the tree will be placed? And rather than spending a full day balancing on a ladder outside the house as you string lights, try using ground-based floodlights that make a small holiday display shine.
Don’t be afraid to say no. After all, no one in your home will fully enjoy Christmas if you’re exhausted. In the same vein, learn to delegate tasks that you don’t need to do yourself. Every member of the family should be helping out, as age and abilities allow.
Be in the Moment
Whether you have your hands deep in cookie dough or tied up in ribbons and tape, try to enjoy the sensations of the moment, remembering what the Christmas season is all about. Do whatever’s needed to maintain as much peace and joy as you can: Take breaks (short walks can be a great stress reliever); avoid overindulging in either food or alcohol (it just makes the stress worse in the end); and don’t forget to breathe deeply (short, shallow breaths increase your stress levels).