It’s all too easy to get overwhelmed with thoughts about what is coming up this holiday season. Parties, dress rehearsals, programs, shopping, wrapping, decorating, baking…did you feel your heart rate increase? Let’s take a look at some ways to lessen the holiday stress and stay happy during the season.
Manage Stress with a Calendar
Plan ahead with a calendar. I’m not talking about filling out complicated forms and planning a rigid time for everything. I’m just advocating thinking about what’s coming up and writing down some concrete plans. Get a blank month calendar and write down the non-negotiables till the end of the year: appointments and commitments. Then use a week calendar/simple planner to take a look at what’s coming in the next few days. Finally, each morning look at the day’s schedule so you’re prepared for appointments and tasks.
Use your calendar to inform your preparations. If your kids have a choir dress rehearsal with uniforms or costumes, get that clothing ready in advance. Don’t forget to corral the socks, tights, shoes and hair bows, as those are the items that tend to get lost and cause a last-minute crisis. If you have a gift exchange coming up, pick up a gift a few days before while you’re grocery shopping. Your calendar can help you get things done AHEAD, and that’s a big key to lowering your stress level during the holidays.
Notify yourself ahead of time. Whether you use high-tech alarms on your phone, or low-tech sticky notes, remind yourself before deadlines. “Put chicken in crockpot” or “Pick up Susie’s gift” can save you some grief when you get busy and distracted.
Reverse-engineer your days. If you have an evening party, back up and figure out how much time you’ll need to prepare finger foods and get everyone ready, rather than waiting till an hour before and panicking.
Keep It Simple
Stock up on supplies for simple, easy meals. Match your schedule with your meal plan. If you have a day coming up with appointments out of the home, that’s a great day to plan a crockpot supper. Actually, a crockpot meal is good any day! The point is to bring some sanity to dinnertime by avoiding the drive-thru or the “What’s for Supper Blues.”
Don’t insist on perfection. Expecting perfection from yourself and others is a setup for disappointment. Things won’t go as planned and you won’t be perfectly organized during this season. Depending on your personality, going with the flow may be easy….or not so much. But having your own secret idea of how things should go and expecting everyone to conform is unfair. Let it go. This, too, shall pass.
Take time to make memories. The day after Christmas, it won’t matter if you created golden brown sugar cookies with icing stars. But when the holiday is over, it will matter what atmosphere you created in your home and how you made your loved ones feel. Don’t miss the opportunities to build memories in simple and sweet ways.
Don’t get stressed about the next month….today. You can only live right now. It’s all going to get done, and what doesn’t get done won’t be the end of the world. Don’t borrow stress and anxiety about the next few weeks. Each day has enough trouble of its own, according to the Bible. You can do today. You can do the next fifteen minutes. Take your thoughts captive so they don’t create a mountain out of a molehill.
What is supposed to be a joyous, special time can turn into a stressed-out, overwhelming time if we’re not careful. Step back and take some time to evaluate and tweak your schedule and life. Take charge of your life—don’t let everything take charge of you this holiday season. Happy holidays!
What are YOUR tips to manage stress for a happier holiday season?