6 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

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Stress Free Collage

Here we are once again… Thanksgiving was just a few weeks ago, Christmas is just barely less than 3 weeks from today, and New Year’s will follow quickly behind.  Does just the thought of all that will happen over the next few weeks bring a bit of stress and possibly a strong sense of feeling overwhelmed?  Yep… me, too!

Regardless, I strongly feel these weeks around Thanksgiving and Christmas should be filled with fun, excitement and wonderment.  But, I’ve learned the hard way that this doesn’t happen unless I make an effort to NOT let it happen.

The desire to focus on the fun and the true celebration that Christmas is, has led me to make some decisions about what will and won’t happen.  This means there are certain things we won’t do, certain things that most definitely will happen, and certain things/thoughts that I will not allow to control my thoughts and feelings.

Let  me explain…

Our schedules (I’m sure, just like yours) becomes packed with so many activities and the to do list grows and grows and grows.   All are fun, but can become overwhelming when added to the calendar in the same 3-4 week time period (at least for me!).

It is so easy to get more caught up in the to do list and less caught up in the whole reason for this beautiful and exciting time of year.   I can always tell when this begins to happen for me because my stress levels rise, I feel overwhelmed and I am NOT enjoying the holidays AT. ALL.

So, in an effort to take back the joy and excitement of this holiday season, here are some things that I have found work for me to reduce some of that stress.  I hope you can find something in this list that will help you this year!

            1. Stop obsessing over things I can’t change – I can’t change the number of days between Thanksgiving and Christmas and I can’t change the number of school programs we have on the calendar for each of our children and I certainly can’t change the fact that there are only 24 hours in the day.  Instead of focusing on the limited amount of time and all I need to do, I focus on how much I enjoy choosing the perfect gift for each of my children.  Instead of worrying about all the places we need to be, I focus on how much I enjoy seeing my daughter sing in her choir program and watching my son play his trumpet in his band concert.
            2. Stop allowing the feeling of being overwhelmed to consume me– this is a big one that I have struggled with for years.  And, if I combine it with the above and also obsess about what I can’t change, I am just one hot mess!  So, instead of constantly panicking about how much I have to do, I take a look at that to do list and instantly pick 2-3 items that are most important AND can also be done the quickest.  There’s nothing like knocking out several tasks quickly to push that feeling of being overwhelmed right behind you!
            3. Make sure to get enough sleep – Being tired will also just send me over the top and straight to feeling more stressed and more overwhelmed.  This is actually something that I have to be careful about year ’round and not just around the holidays.  I need my sleep!  When I’m well rested everything in my world is all that much more wonderful.
            4. Don’t do everything on my own – I am naturally one of those people that seems to think I can and that I should do everything myself.  Over the years, I have learned that it’s okay to ask my husband for help.  He’s happy to do it…. I just need to make him aware of the fact that I need help.  And, now that my kids are getting older, there’s a lot of things they can do to help out, too.
            5. Focus on the good and NOT the bad – what is it about us that makes us naturally focus on all the negative in life?  I don’t know… but I do know that when I focus on the good, I am a much better me.  It is then that I can let go and truly enjoy all the blessings this time of the year brings!
            6. Do not rush through the days of this holiday season – with our schedules and to do lists packed as full as they can get, it is so easy to just rush, rush rush! I discovered a long time ago that this is not the way to truly enjoy the season.  I miss it all when I rush!  Slow down and really listen and see all that is going on around.  Take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy watching the smiles on the faces of your loved ones. the excitement as they open their presents on Christmas day, and all the other fun activities.

What are some of the ways you reduce stress and truly enjoy the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas?