Tips For A Stress-Free Holiday

There’s 12 days left before Christmas. How is that possible? 😳

This time of year might find you stressed out, off your usual routine, and trying to do #AllTheThings…

Is all my shopping done? Are all the gifts wrapped? Are all the cards mailed? Do you have a plan for what you are bringing to the holiday get-together? Is there still a payday left before Christmas? How many different stops will we have to make at various gatherings all taking place on the same day? Is the house clean for unexpected company? Are we planning dirty Santa at work? Do the kids have a party at school? Do I have enough wrapping paper and bows? What about scotch tape? Where did I put the Christmas lights at in the attic? What day is the Church Christmas pageant? Are the linens washed for company? When am I going to find time to make cookies for the neighbors?

Ahhhhh!!! Enough! It is just not worth it!

I have spent too much mental energy in years past trying to do what was expected. Once I realized that the only one who had expectations was me and allowed myself a little grace, this time of year became much more enjoyable.


Here are my tips to stay sane, reduce stress, and make sure you include self-care during this time of year:

Plan the schedule ahead as much as possible, but if things go awry, just roll with it.
The family get-together day and time will likely change 5 times before it is decided upon. That being said, if you find yourself frustrated by those group texts and rearranging your calendar every time it gets moved, by all means, just put the text thread on hide alerts, and check a few days from now to see what the final plan actually is. If you can make it, great. If not, it will also be OK. You shouldn’t be expected to keep changing your schedule (and all the schedules of all those it affects). It is not always realistic to think all schedules will coordinate for everyone to be there. Do your best to accommodate friends, family, and in-laws. After that… let it go.

Don’t try to do it all.
Nobody can realistically expect to be the perfect host/hostess, and coordinate the church Christmas pageant, and find the perfect gift for everyone, and decorate the house like Martha Stewart, and keep Santa’s identity, etc, and still enjoy all the activities to the fullest. Choose what you are best suited for and enlist help for the rest. Say no when it will over-extend you.

Don’t get caught up in the need to find the perfect gift for everyone.
If possible, agree to skip gift exchanges altogether, and opt for spending on a experience or outing. Donate time or food to a local charity or family in need. Draw names so you only have to get one gift. Shop online for what you can to avoid the holiday cray cray. Sometimes the most appreciated gift is actually money or a gift card so the person can buy whatever they actually need. Have a generic ready-to go backup gift (or two) in case someone gifts you unexpectedly. A cute Christmas ornament that would be appropriate for any gender and any age in a Christmas bag is an easy go-to! Another great idea are these Holiday Baking Mixes With Printable Tags by Dashing Dish!

Don’t get overwhelmed by cooking.
The things you will remember the most will be related to the time spent with those you care about, not whether you blew them away with the most amazing dish ever. Use shortcuts where possible. Sometimes store-bought will do. Not everything needs to be from scratch. Make things fun in other ways. Think ahead about what to bring to each event, so you don’t have to make a last minute grocery store run.  Remember what you bring need not be life-changing. Stick with a familiar dish and don’t try to make a new recipe—that always adds extra stress. Don’t insist on bringing something if your host tells you that you don’t have to.

Keep perspective on what it is all about.
Hint: it isn’t the perfect holiday meal, the most dramatic lights on the house, getting cards mailed out before everyone else, or wowing everyone with your handmade gifts. It is time with those you love and remembering the real reason we are celebrating—the gift of Christ our Savior. Pause long enough to include Him. Don’t just pay lip service, but seriously go out of your way to worship and adore Him. Use the opportunity to share the good new of Christ with those who do not yet know Him. For those who are shy about witnessing, Christmas makes broaching the subject easier than other times because it feels less invasive to do so. We don’t know for sure, but the Magi are estimated to have traveled several weeks or months (possibly several hundreds of miles) to see Christ. Family and friends are important, but He is the reason for everything.

Practice self care.
It is even more important now than usual. Don’t say you don’t have time. Stay charged up so that you don’t get burned out. Here’s how:

  • Sleep: Aim for 7-8 hours a night minimum. Try to go to bed at the same time and wake at the same time each day. Nap when possible for 20-30 minutes if needed.
  • Routine: Keep your routine as much as possible. Have a morning and evening routine.
  • Recharge: Take time to do things you enjoy. Read, listen to music, take a warm bath, play with your pet, etc. Don’t rush past these opportunities to refresh yourself.
  • Quite time: Find a way to get some alone time. Even if it is just a few minutes a day. Whether you pray, meditate, practice deep breathing, or just think. Get away from the noise for a little while.
  • Gratitude: I’ve talked about this before. Keeping a gratitude journal is my #1 tool for keeping my mind positive. There are many ways to incorporate gratitude. Here are a few more examples.
  • Nutrition: Eat healthy the majority of the time and remember your multivitamin. Indulge when worth it, but don’t go all out. Good nutrition (and rest) will keep your immune system up.
  • Exercise: This is unfortunately often one of the first things to get pushed aside when free time is limited. Maybe you can’t get to the gym as often with the packed holiday schedule and/or out of town trips. Maybe your usual class is cancelled because of the holiday schedule. There’s still other options. Try to do something on the usual days and times that you already have carved out for exercise when possible. That way the space doesn’t get filled and absorbed leaving you having to fight for your time back after the holidays are over. If it is not possible to keep that time for any reason, you can still find time to do something, even if it is just 10-15 minutes of walking or body weight exercise at home. Even small bursts of activity throughout the day add up. The key is staying consistent and keeping the commitment to yourself. You don’t want to be out of the habit and trying to re-establish your healthy routine once the New Year rolls around.

I pray these tips are helpful and that you have a blessed and stress-free holiday!


Reader Questions:

1/ What is your biggest source of stress during this time of year?
2/ How do you try to combat the stress?

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