7 Ways to Avoid An Extra Stressful Holiday Season

12/11/2012

Stressful holiday photo

While the holiday season should be marked with happiness and abundance, often times it turns into a time of stressful family gatherings and excessive consumption. With a holiday party nearly every other day, an upcoming family visit, and a Christmas list a mile high, getting it all done can sometimes feel impossible. 

How can you deal with the rush of the holiday season without getting overwhelmed? In short, keep it all in perspective.

1. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

You don’t have to be the perfect host and gift giver. Simplify and find ways to reduce your to-do list. Instead of buying all your friends individual gifts, have them over for a potluck dinner. If you have a holiday party, make the main course and have everybody else bring a side dish. Consider a less intense holiday lunch rather than holiday dinner.

2. No When to Say No Thanks

Decisions photo

If you’re working up until Christmas eve, it’s ok to not make the trip home. Travel is expensive, stressful, and sometimes short lived during the holiday season. So it can be best to go home at a different time of year. If it’s more stressful than enjoyable, why put yourself through that? Head home in January when it's less expensive and you have more time. The same is true of holiday parties, if you can’t make it, you can’t make it. 

3. Be Grateful

Take a few minutes every morning or evening to be thankful for what matters in life. Family, friends, that random warm day in the middle of December--whatever it is, remind yourself that there’s much to be grateful for beyond all the consumerism of the holiday season. 

4. Cut The Judgement

Accept your family for who they are and stop judging. It's easy to fall victim to judgement especially when you're in a house full of family that you see once a year but resist the urge to start. Instead, try your best to understand where people are coming from and why they act the way they do. Don't become so emotionally invested in other people's opinions. 

5. Get Enough Sleep

Reduce stress during the holiday season by ensuring that you're always well rested. While checking one more thing off the to-do list is appealing, that extra hour of sleep may do you more good in the long run. 

6. Choose Lighter Topics

If you have trouble getting along with your family, choose lighter topics of conversation. The likelihood of a political or religious agreement is unlikely so avoid heavier topics entirely. Have a few go-to topics in your head so you don't slip up.

Family time photo

7. Volunteer Your Time 

Volunteering is a good way to get back to the basics. It’s natural that when things get stressful in our lives we have a habit of only thinking of ourselves. We’re so stuck in the rut of worrying about our own well being that we hardly think of anyone else. But in the end the very thing that may bring you out of that rut is helping others.

George Doyle/Thinkstock/Thinkstock/Ryan McVay/Thinkstock
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Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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