Have a stress-free holiday
Gifts to buy, parties to plan, rooms to clean, meals to cook, places to go – there’s a lot going on over the next month or so! Add all of this to your everyday responsibilities and it’s easy to see how the holidays can lead to stress. But you can prevent this anxious feeling by staying in control of your time and responsibilities this holiday season.
Plan for Success
Perhaps the biggest cause of holiday stress is setting huge expectations for yourself and then failing to live up to them. An important way to combat this is to plan and get organized ahead of time. Then you can set yourself up for success and accomplishment instead of stress and anxiety.
First, make a list of everything you’d like to do this month and events you have to get ready for. The big things and the little things. This isn’t a list of everyday chores, it’s a list to get ready for the holidays. It should include things like decorating, wrapping presents and making cookies. But also put some things on there that are just for you, like a relaxing bubble bath.
Break Down and Prioritize
Make the bigger tasks easier to handle by breaking them down into smaller tasks that are easy to complete. You’ll be more likely to get started if a task doesn’t feel as though it’s a big deal. For instance, instead of telling yourself to decorate your living room, just concentrate on decorating your table. .
When you’ve finished your to-do list, go over it one more time and prioritize each task. Don’t make it too complicated, just have three levels of priority—“I Need to Do This,” “I’d Like To Do This” and “It’d Be Great If I Have Time To Do This.”
A Feeling Of Accomplishment
Here’s the nice thing about breaking the big tasks on your list into smaller tasks: Whenever you finish something on your list, cross it off. There is a great feeling of satisfaction to physically cross a task off your list. And when you look at the list, you can see how much you’ve already accomplished. Every day this month, try to cross at least one thing off of your list.
If there’s a task on your list you’re not excited about, try to come up with ways to make it more pleasant. For example, have friends over for a baking party and make it a fun social event.
Take Time for Yourself
Make sure that you’re making time for yourself, especially when you feel pressure starting to build. This is a good time to cross “take a relaxing bath” off of your to-do list. Even if you don’t have time for that, give yourself five quiet minutes of relaxation.
Here are some other tricks to manage stress during the holidays:
- Make sure to get enough sleep and keep a regular sleep schedule
- Eat well balanced, nutritious meals
- Make some time to exercise
1st Week of December
- Finalize gift list.
- Buy wrapping paper, ribbon, tape, gift tags, etc.
- Start shopping. Be sure to place all online orders this week to guarantee gifts arrive in time.
- Shop for handmade holiday gift supplies.
- Check decorations, testing lights and tossing anything that’s broken.
- Buy or make greeting cards (don’t forget to pick up extra stamps!).
- Finalize your holiday meal menu and write a detailed shopping list.
- Order turkey or ham, if serving.
- Send holiday party invites. While you’re at it, go ahead and send the invitations for your New Year’s celebration. Calendars fill up quick this time of year—your guests will appreciate the advance notice.
2nd Week of December
- Mail greeting cards.
- Shop for non-perishable items, from canned goods to flour, sugar and spices.
- Buy live decorations, such as sprigs of evergreen.
- Decorate your holiday home.
3rd Week in December
- Clean your home, especially high-traffic areas—bathrooms, entryway and kitchen.
- Buy batteries for electronic gifts like alarm clocks and toys.
- Double check that your camera or video recorder is in working order.
- Start making cookie dough.
4th Week of December
- Bake and package cookies.
- Shop for fresh items like flowers and produce.
- Wash your special occasion dinnerware.
- Preset your holiday table. Label platters and bowls with the names of the dishes to be served on them.
- Charge camera and/or video recorder.
- Take photo albums and scrapbooks out of storage and ready them for post-meal reminiscing.
- Finish last-minute wrapping.
- Freshen your home before guests arrive.
- Clean before, during and after your party.
- Rejoice with the ones you love.