How To Have A Stress-Free Holiday Season

I know what you’re thinking…. There’s literally no way in the world that it’s possible to have a stress-free holiday season. Most people believe that when the Holidays come, they inevitably bring with them an unhealthy does of stressful and overwhelming days. It always makes me so sad to hear people say they can’t wait til the Holidays are over and it makes me think that maybe we are doing this whole season a total disservice.

Before we go any further, I just want you to know that this post is written just as much for me as it is for you. The whole idea has come from a place in me that is so tired of feeling like the weeks from Halloween to New Year’s are a crazy cycle that I just can’t get out of. After spending the past who knows how many Holiday seasons stressed out, I finally decided it was time to sit down and make an intentional plan to make this year different.

Let’s start out by defining what STRESS even means. We throw that word around a lot but I think if we are going to learn to avoid it, we need to first recognize what it is.

STRESS (noun) a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.

Sounds fun, huh? So the first thing we discover is that stress is the result of something else happening. So stress is a physical and emotional response to some outside circumstance. Now if your Holiday season is anything like mine, there are a lot of circumstances that can’t be controlled. What we can control is how we respond to our circumstances.

SO in a nutshell, here’s our game plan:

Step One: Decide what situations cause stress and see what can change in our circumstances.

Step Two: Look at what circumstances we can’t change and decide how we can respond more positively to them.

This next part is going to take a little bit of time but I think it’ll be worth it in the long run. More than likely, you find yourself stressing out over the same exact things every year but instead of changing anything, you feel helpless and end up on auto pilot. Well, Santa isn’t the only one that needs to make a list and check it twice. It’s time to sit down and make your own list. Identify the things that cause stress and then decide ahead of time how you can respond to each of those situations.

In the spirit of full disclosure, all of these suggestions are coming from my own learned experiences. My hope is that maybe a few of these will jump out at you and help to change your season for the better.

Make a Budget

Too many gifts, not enough money. I’m a big time gift giver. I get SO much joy out of finding just the right gift for the people I love. Heck, I’d probably even get joy out of giving the right gift to a perfect stranger! I just love to give gifts. Financial stress over the Holidays is a huge problem for a lot of us and the only way to really get it under control is to have a budget. Sit down with the brains of the family and decide what you’ll spend on each person on your list. This way, you’ll know exactly what you can afford to spend. The most important part here is that you are all on the same page. Having different expectations is normally what gets you in trouble.

Get Rid Of Expectations

Let me just start by saying that ALL expectations are unrealistic! We think of what we expect as totally reasonable but that’s the problem. This is not a fun one but we have got to identify what our expectations are of family, friends, and ourselves so we can keep them under control, or just get rid of them all together! The Holidays have a way of throwing us all into a frenzy of perceived perfection. I say perceived because it never really is perfect. Let’s remember that things don’t have to be perfect in order to be good. If you’re anything like me, you have to lose the claws buried deep into a need for perfection and just live in the moment. I’m not exactly a roll with it kinda girl but with a little bit of practice, I’m learning to be.

Manage That List

We do the same list of things every single year but it seems like it’s always an overwhelming process, am I right? This year I’m starting my list early so it doesn’t get away from me. My house is already decorated and my list of things to buy is already getting told who’s boss. I know it’s tempting to wait until black friday and beyond to see what deals you can get but I’d recommend going ahead and making your list and seeing what things you can go ahead and buy now since they probably won’t go on sale. Once the item is bought, don’t check it off your list until it’s wrapped and under the tree. Speaking of wrapping… one thing that’s helped me so much in years past is to have a basket where I keep all my wrapping materials so I’m not wasting time running around looking for things when it’s time to wrap gifts. I keep scissors, tape, a pen, bows, tags, tissue paper, boxes, and paper all in the same spot. Assembling it all together in the beginning will save you lots of time in the long run.

Communicate

We all have our favorite things to do around the Holidays so we are planning to sit down as a family and each talk about what we look forward to most. Each family member gets to put their picks on the calendar to make sure it gets done. Put the big things in first and then everything else can happen it if happens. Communicating openly is an important family dynamic all year long but it’s especially valuable around Holiday time. Communication with extended family is really important too. We have found in years past that we are almost always stressed about spending enough time with each side of our family. Matt and I both struggle with disappointing people, especially our parents. What we’ve learned from years past is that we can’t assume that our families will remember our plans. We have to overly communicate what our plans are so everyone is on the same page. We also have to remind ourselves to be fully present wherever we are.

Take Care Of Yourself

This may sound like a really selfish question, but you need to ask yourself what makes your soul feel fed around the Holidays. Is it spending time with certain family members, sitting by the fire watching a Christmas movie, shopping with friends? Whatever it is, if it’s important to you, it needs to happen! The amazing thing is that if your soul feels taken care of, you’re better equipped to be present and fun for your family. You know how on plane rides, the attendant always says to put your air mask on first before helping others? Well, it’s because if you can’t breathe, you can’t help others to breathe. I know that the Holidays are the most tempting time to be the hero and do all things for all people but you’ve got to recognize your limitations and feed your soul. Take time to slow down and be quiet. Take time to reflect and enjoy. Put your mask on first, friend. You being the healthiest version of yourself will only benefit those around you.

One of my very favorite classic Christmas songs is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. That’s what we really all want, right? A merry little Christmas. So let your heart be light by focusing on what your blessings are and what you’ve got to be thankful for. Maybe your troubles won’t be out of sight, but shifting perspective will at least help them to be out of focus. The very beauty of the Christmas season is that we are together as the Lord allows. So hang that shining star, sister! And have yourself a Merry Little Christmas now!

 

 

 

 

 

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