10 Tips to Combat Holiday Stress

Written by Alyssa Banko
Published in SCV Health & Family Magazine November/December 2013
A publication of The Santa Clarita Signal

With the arrival of November comes the holiday season just creeping around the corner.

Whether we’re ready for it or not, it’s thrown in our face earlier and earlier every year.  Decorations are in store, holiday music is being played as we shop for groceries and the flyers are filling up our mailboxes with those early bird holiday deals.

Don’t get me wrong: I do enjoy the holidays, but the stress that goes along with I can definitely do without.

As moms, this is the time of year where our plates are overflowing as we try and get, and stay, in the holiday swing.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” I really want to believe it.  But reality is, the song sends my stress hormones through the roof.

Every year I try and do things a little differently in an attempt to keep my cortisol level in check.  Some work, others don’t, but it truly helps me manage the season a bit better.

Below is a list of tips that have helped me manage stress over the years.  Pick one or two of them based on what drives you nuts, and give it a try.  You have nothing to lose but stress!

  1. Start your shopping early.  Believe it or not, I shop for the holidays all year long.  If I see something, I pick it up.  It not only helps me from going crazy the last few weeks before the big day, but it helps spread my budget out throughout the year.  So I’m not left with a mound of debt come January 1st.
  2. Think “No Prep” Thanksgiving Dinner.  Sure it’s nice to show off to your gourmet cooking skills to your family and friends, but really, who cares?  In my mind, I have 3 choices for Thanksgiving dinner.  First, if are invited to someone’s house, accept it!  Pick up a pie along the way and you’re done.  Second, just go out for dinner.  Here’s your chance to enjoy a great turkey dinner with your family with absolutely no prep or mess.  Third, pre-order a full course dinner, and just go pick it up.  Turkey is turkey, no matter who makes it.
  3. Shop from home.  I’ll admit, I used to get up at 3 a.m. on Black Friday and flock to the stores with all the other crazies but, quite frankly, I got tired of people cutting in line, elbowing me and getting in fists fights over parking spots.  Cyber Monday is a wonderful thing.  Sit at home, put some gifts in your shopping cart, look up some coupon codes and click “Proceed to Checkout.”
  4. Decorate on Thanksgiving Day, and Have Fun. One of the highlights of Thanksgiving Day, for my family, is pulling our Christmas decorations out of the garage and putting them up as a family.  As soon as dinner is over, it’s a race to the garage to get started.  The kids love putting their “special touches” on the yard and no one really care about how it looks.
  5. Organize and get your jolly on.  I used to be one of those moms that looked like and idiot with piles of Christmas lists, crossing out what I had purchased and trying to figure out what else I needed.  Not anymore, my solution was only an app away.  Download “The Better Christmas List” for $1.99 and make your shopping a piece of cake.  Organize your gifts by group and by person, keep track of your budget and your progress by date.
  6. Box as you go.  Don’t be like the majority of moms out there waiting until Christmas Eve to wrap your gifts.  For starters, get rid of the bulk of the wrapping paper and replace with holiday boxes.  As you buy your gifts, don’t just throw the bags in the back of the closet.  Put the gift in a box, slap a tag on it and it’s wrapped.  No tape or scissors needed.
  7. Lower your expectation level.  Say this phrase out loud as you read it: “It’s good enough.”  Be sure to repeat as necessary.  There is no need for you to be Martha Stewart when it comes to decorations, fancy bows and over-the-top gifts.
  8. Just pick a picture.  Don’t feel the need to outdo everyone else with a fancy holiday photo card.  Just pick a nice family photo and get it in the mail.  The recipient will open it and say, “look how big the kids are getting,” and then throw it in a pile.  Oh and those who send out those ridiculous family newsletters, please know that you are the butt of many jokes.
  9. Get your festive outfit now.  I’ve already gone out and purchased some new duds that I bought specifically for holiday parties.  The last place I want to be the first few weeks in December is at the mall.  And you know what?  I’m going to wear that same outfit to all the parties I go to and save money to put towards our family vacation.
  10. Unwind and recharge.  You haven’t lost your mind, you’re not behind the eight ball and your sanity is still in check.   It’s time to celebrate and actually enjoy the holiday season.  Don’t feel guilty, go watch a movie, get a manicure or take an entire hour (or two) and get a massage.  Enjoy the parties and get togethers while you sing, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

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