Q. The holidays are here, and with them, the joyful tidings of holiday stress. On top of my already busy schedule, I have the added tasks of decorating the house, buying gifts, writing holiday cards, baking and cooking, going to I children’s holiday programs, attending parties, maintaining diet and exercise, traveling to see family, finishing up end-of-the-year budgets and sales reports, and finding time for family and friends … How do I do it all without resorting to drugs, alcohol, and chocolate addiction?
A. First, you need to ask yourself: Does it all really have to be done in order for the holiday season to be successful? Get clear on your top three to five priorities. If your priorities are to attend holiday parties, go to your children’s holiday programs, and buy great gifts, then focus on just these, and hire out or don’t do the rest.
Here are the top 8 ways to relieve the added stress of the holiday season:
- Determine your priorities – what is really important to you this time of year?
- Say yes to your “yes list” and no when necessary.
- Hire someone to do it for you -delegation is your friend!
- Shop online – shop, gift wrap, and ship 24 hours a day.
- Donate to charity – remember the reason for the season!
- Everything in moderation – instead of five drinks at the office party, enjoy one or two.
- Plan a detoxification regime for after the holidays.
- Maintain a sense of balance in your diet and exercise regime, and be gentle with yourself when you don’t!
Last year, my top priorities were to: 1) give to causes believe in, 2) spend time with my husband, son and friends, 3) buy innovative gifts, and 4) get all my yearend business requirements accomplished. To accomplish these, my husband and I lessened our load by deciding to visit family at other less-stressful times of the year, send online holiday cards, and buy pre-made baked goods from bakeries that do it best. When looking for innovative gifts, I asked myself if our friends and family really needed another gift basket or pair of mittens. The answer was no. I decided, instead, to give charity donations through the Heifer Project, a program dedicated to ending world hunger. Our friends thanked us for donating to such a great cause in their names. These actions allowed me to spend more time with loved ones and to release the stress of extra expectations this time of year brings. I admitted that I couldn’t and didn’t want to do it all.