In an effort to pull off the perfect Hallmark holiday we often find ourselves facing enormous pressures - work, parties, out of town guests, shopping, baking, kids on a school break, cleaning and the list goes on. So much for peace and joy, right? With some simple tips you can minimize stress and even enjoy the holidays.
Be realistic. Traditions and rituals often change as families change and grow. Hold on to those traditions that you can, but realize that you may have to let go of others.
Stick to a budget. Remember that the holidays are not about who got the biggest gift. Set a reasonable budget and stick to it! If you don’t you could feel anxious and tense for months as you try to pay the bills. Give homemade gifts or start a family gift exchange.
Set priorities. Learn to say no to social engagements that you just don’t have time for. Believe it or not, people will understand if you can’t make it. If you say yes, only to what you want to do, you will feel less overwhelmed and bitter.
Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holiday’s become a dietary free-for-all. Excessive eating will only show up on your waistline later, which can cause anxiety. Eat a healthy snack before a holiday party.
Stick to your exercise routine. If you have an exercise routine, then do your best to stick with it. It may mean cutting down on a few holiday related activities, but it is well worth it in benefits which are both physical and psychological. Be creative and involve your family members so you spend time with them and get your exercise. Invite them to go a walk or a bike ride.
Look for simple ways to increase physical activity. Chances are there will be days when you just won’t have time to do your regular exercise. On these days look for opportunities to “build” physical activity into your day, like parking farther out, taking the stairs or doing a short walk to look at Christmas lights.
Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting neighbors and friends, etc. Plan your menus and make what you can ahead of time. This will help prevent the last minute scramble to pick up items you may have forgotten.
Forget about perfection. Holiday TV specials are often full of happy families with no problems, and if they do have problems they are resolved within 1-2 hours. In real life, it does not usually work out that way. Your husband will burn the cookies, your mother-in-law will criticize something, and your brother will start up an old argument, all in the matter of an hour. Accept imperfections in yourself and others, and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Seek professional help if you need it. The holidays are often a hard time for many people. Despite your best efforts, if you still find yourself feeling persistently anxious, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless and unable to face routine chores for several weeks, seek professional help. Speak with your doctor or a mental health professional.