The Secret to a Stress-Free Holiday Season

Are you feeling the onset of holiday stress yet? Don’t worry, you’re in good company. And, guess what studies say the biggest cause of holiday stress is?

Time is the answer! Most people claim they run out of it too quickly.

Lucky for you. You can control your time. It’s all your choice. To help you get on your way to a stress free holiday season, here are three steps for keeping stress out of your holiday plans:

Step 1: Don’t put off commitment

  • Quite often, your biggest mistake is not pinning down your plans early enough. That can make you feel out of control, like a pinball bouncing from one activity to another. Be proactive and make thoughtful choices for your time. Do it now.
  • Fill your calendar with all the events you anticipate, including parties, gift exchanges, company events, travel plans and school activities. This may take some phone or web research to chase down event details.
  • Firm up all travel plans. This is the least flexible item of all holiday plans. Create strict itineraries for date/time when you’re leaving, how you’re traveling, and where you’re staying. Solve your problems and eliminate your guesswork now
  • Make lists of all the things that take effort: gifts you’ll need to buy, errands you’ll need to run, food you’ll need to prepare, and decorations you’ll need to hang. Don’t forget the small but important items such as scotch tape, dry cleaning, baby sitters, stamps, and non-dairy creamer.
  • Stop procrastinating. It’s a holiday plan-killer.
  • Great tip here: A journal should be your first investment into fighting holiday stress. Keep all your notes and schedules written carefully, and you can use it as a resource for next year’s holidays.

Step 2: Be a deadline Grinch

There is no more stressful feeling than knowing you’re running out of time. Holidays always have way of sneaking up on you, so set hard and fast dates for accomplishing your tasks. This will stop important activities from being put off until last minute.

  • Break larger tasks down into smaller chunks. For example, you can choose to do a certain number of greeting cards each day, or you can spread out your shopping over the course of a week.
  • Take your deadlines seriously. Mark down your plans and stick to them, and don’t get caught in carefree holiday mode. You’ll pay for it in lost time.
  • Remember balance. You need to fit in time for the rest of life’s priorities such as work and family.

Step 3: Stop over-planning yourself

Let’s face it, we love our holidays with all the trimmings. But often people go overboard. Decide if your plan is truly realistic. Is it humanly possible for you and your family to do everything and still have time to relax? Chances are, you’re taking on too much.

  • Say no. For the sake of your own sanity you may have to turn down that one extra party on your schedule. You only have so much time.
  • Say no, again. For the sake of sanity you may have to forgo making homemade cookies for your daughter’s classmates and instead buy pre-made. What seems easy now may be a chore when the holidays arrive.
  • Keep the big picture. While you’re busy planning the minutia of your festivities remember what your holiday is truly about. Will planning those extra decorations truly equate to more happiness? Make it your choice to not be stressed this year.

One final tip on Holiday Stress

A major source of holiday stress (and post-holiday stress) stems from your personal health. Limit your indulgences. Get sleep, cut back on the party snacks, keep tabs on your desserts and limit your alcohol consumption. Plan to have fun, but just don’t pay for it later.

The holiday season should be about enjoying special times with family and friends. Make a conscious decision to get your act together this year. Your own happiness, and that of those around you, is your primary motivation.

One thought on “The Secret to a Stress-Free Holiday Season

  1. Great article Jeff!

    In my opinion, the best way to stay stress-free during the holidays is to learn to say “no”, as you have pointed out yourself. Being comfortable with saying “no” will save you a lot of time and stress. If you have a fairly large social circle, there will also be some sort of a social gathering you can attend. You cannot go to all of them and you shouldn’t even try. Say “no”, people won’t get offended, they know the Holidays are hectic so noone really expects everyone that they invited to show up.

Comments are closed.