The holidays are a glorious time filled with fun, food and festivities. But, they can also be filled with stress crunchers. The holidays can pull at you with family commitments and financial needs. There are always holiday time hogs. These include shopping, decorating and parties that all are fun, but hard on the pocketbook and waistline. Here are a few tips to de-stress this holiday season!
I checked in with friends and family. I wanted to see how they try to rein it in. How do they keep the stress level low during the holiday season? Do they do it by planning ahead? I have heard over and over writing medical stories for Senior News and Times that stress can be a health risk so lets see how we can lower that risk!
Less is More
Writer friend Danelle Fraser Gay, opened with the best start on how to plan to de-stress this holiday season, “Keep. It. Simple. We aren’t Martha Stewart and don’t need to be. Be in the moment with family and friends…”
Longtime friend Suzette Starr had more words of wisdom. This should be remembered whether talking Thanksgiving or Christmas, or whichever holiday you celebrate. “Don’t overdo. Be thankful. Remember to breath. Laugh and enjoy. “Keeping that in mind….
My cousin Louise’s daughter Lisa is a great planner. She suggests, “I’ve started using a printable holiday planner. It’s just a few pages but has lists that really help stay organized. Know who to get gifts for, menu plans and more. Abby Lawson pintables is who I like (free) but there are lots out there.”
I love this suggestion. I try to keep a list of everything I buy for everyone. Then I wrap them up quickly so they are ready to put under the tree. This keeps me organized and helps me not forget what I bought for who!
Longtime friend Paul Robertson is all about being organized year round. “Keep a notebook by your bed. Then you don’t have to worry about remembering in the morning. Always remember a couple of old adages, 1 How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time (take one bite, one piece at a time, work it until it is done and then take one more bite. Don’t put too much on your plate.) Adage 2, the journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step. Take that first step and it’s done. Take that next step and it’s done. Then, take that next step and it’s done. Pretty soon you are at the end of that path and you can look back and see how much you have accomplished, how far you have come.
Advent Calendar Organizer!
Writer Lindsay Hindman had the coolest idea to keep organized and to destress this holiday season! This sounds like so much fun I may have to do this only in November! “One thing our family does that can sound like a lot of work but actually relieves stress for me is to make an Advent activity calendar. Just fill it with all the activities on your holiday bucket list! Knowing which day we are baking gingerbread, decorating ornaments, or mailing presents out of town helps me. It makes sure we are prepared ahead of time. We get them all done without it all piling onto the same few days.”
Friend and former work colleague Roslyn Blach Brookens shared, “Don’t focus on a particular day. Make it a season, so celebrate Christmas a day or two later. Thanksgiving on a Friday, or whatever works to make a less stressful time for your family.”
This has worked beautifully for us. With three kids and two grandkids, we celebrate Christmas before the actual day. Then my married kids can celebrate at home, or with their inlaws. Then we don’t have to compete with anyone else for the day. I agree with Roslyn, the day is when you make it. Remove the stress instead of trying to be a million places in one day. It offers a much more relaxed, slowed down day that works for all.
Learn to Say No
Friend, and former work colleague, Annette Lingleo Fulgenzi shared, “Learn that It’s ok to say “No” many of us take on too many burdens at the holidays.”
It is so true, you can’t do it all, and and trying only makes everyone frustrated. I am listening Annette!
Meditation and Ways to Relax
For me it is important to remember the reason for the season keeping the Christ in Christmas. For everyone I know the holidays have their own meanings.
Perhaps the easiest way to relieve stress, writer friend Frances Folsum found, is through our furry friends! “Petting or walking my dog is stress relieving.”
Our farm cat Charlie is a comedian that quickly brings a smile to our face.
Writing Friend Suzanne Fluhr added, “I use Zentangle, a creative meditative art form, to reduce stress AND I enjoy it.”
Writer, Donna Adinolfi said, “I use Insight Timer…. meditations and sleep stories help year round and especially holiday time. I also go for a drive – it doesn’t have to be long – a few miles to clear my head with my favorite music.”
Take Care of Yourself
Relative Cindy Bettinger added, “The very best thing I’ve done for myself is focusing on today. Thinking about what I want rather than what everyone else wants.”
Friend Maggie Hardt Miller agreed with Cindy, “Self care is important too. Play music while you are getting ready. Light a few scented candles, stay hydrated, and get plenty of rest. If you hit a wall, don’t push on. Take a short power nap, have a glass of wine or cup of tea. Read a holiday story or watch a holiday movie to re-charge.”
Although I think at first that he said it jokingly, writing friend Tim Sams had two thoughts. “Avoid family like the plague”, and “Go out to eat”. In all honesty, sometimes taking time for yourself, and eating a meal away from the house is the best advice ever!
Farm toy friend Charlotte Angotti suggest try stress reliever workshops.
Mom added “Don’t overspend, stick to your budget, or you will regret it later.”
My good friend since forever, Debbie Reynolds Nemeck said, “I think for me sticking to a strict list helps . You always got your shopping done early and gave me good ideas!” I do like to shop early, in fact, being done by Thanksgiving or soon after is a huge stress reliever for me!
My cousin and writer, Carrie Clark Stienweg states, “Delegate things to others in the family so you are not overwhelmed.”
To keep to the list, Carrie also says, “Buy what you can online – especially when you can get free shipping or do curbside pickup so you aren’t tempted to go inside and spend extra time and money there.”
Shopping Made Easy
Friend and family member, Pauline Ladage Harre keeps her shopping easy which helps destress this holiday season. She said, “I give money and gift cards. Let them get what they want. MUCH less stress!!!!!” True, this is something I often add in especially when I have no idea what to get! That certainly fits everyone’s taste!
Friend Maggie Hardt Miller like me starts her shopping early. “I start shopping in August to reduce stress.”
My daughter, Carrie Ladage Skogsberg said, “I try (but don’t always succeed) to get all of my shopping done by the first of December . Then I can enjoy all of the events, activities, etc. without stressing about finishing the gifts.”
Meals and Baking
Family friend Crystal Pitchford shared ways to make the day of cooking easier! “When it comes to cooking the meal there are several things that can be done ahead of time. A couple of examples are the family recipe for rolls can be mixed up a week in advance. Keep them in the refrigerator until ready to use. (I usually mix them up a few days in advance). The family egg noodle recipe I make them a couple days in advance. This gives them plenty of time to dry. There are several things that you can do in advance. Just research first so you know it’s safe. Having a friend or family member help always makes things easier and more relaxing.”
Maggie Hardt Miller simplified her cooking and cleaning plans. “As I’ve gotten older I just focus on what is most important, family being together. Nothing needs to be perfect, just good food and fun. Last year, I bought a lot of my food from Hy Vee,, and it was a huge hit. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve cut back on the amount of baking I do, just baking each one’s favorite. I don’t worry if the house is perfectly clean either. I don’t use my china but find really pretty and sturdy paper plates .”
Keep it simple – This advice hits home. So many wonderful tips to make the holidays easier and more joyful. If you have advice you’d like to share, I’d love to hear your ideas.