For many of us, the holiday season can be as stressful as it is happy. But the good news is that you always know when it's coming, which means you can prepare and plan for a holiday that's more joyous for you – and less taxing on you – with these tips!
Prioritize your commitments. Make a list of all those chores to be done and events to be attended this season. For each item on your list, ask yourself, "Does this help me achieve my holiday-season goals? Is this rewarding?" While you probably can't scratch every item for which the answers are "no" off your list, there are probably some you can do away with.
Cheat a little. Are there ways you can make taking care of what's left on your to-do list easier and less time consuming? For example, can you switch to a Secret Santa style of gift exchange, in which you'll only be responsible for buying one gift? Can you ask each of your dinner guests to come with a contribution, rather than cooking everything yourself?
Get organized. Use a system – be it a printed calendar or a smartphone app – to keep track of your chores and commitments. Make note not just of the time by which you need to finish a chore or be ready for an event, but when you need to start in order to meet those deadlines without breaking too much of a seasonal sweat.
Delegate. You don't have to do everything yourself. Getting the kids involved in gift wrapping, decorating, simple food-preparation tasks, or even writing a standard, simple message in greeting cards can be a great way to achieve your goal of spending quality time with your family over the holiday season. You may even find yourself establishing new family traditions that everyone can enjoy.
Set a budget and stick to it. Money is a common source of holiday stress (not to mention postholiday stress), so figure out ahead of time what costs you need to account for and what you can afford to spend. And don't stop at gifts – other holiday-related costs can include decorations, food and beverages, mailing costs for shipping gifts and, if you plan to leave town, travel expenses.
Try to maintain your regular healthy eating, exercise and sleeping routines. Not only will sticking to your routines help you to avoid the guilt-induced stress that can come from neglecting yourself and overindulging, you'll also be in a much better frame of mind to deal with other typical holiday-season stresses like having too many things to do or dealing with family drama.
Be mindful of your mindset. So much of the stress we feel during the holidays is self-induced. We guilt ourselves when we say no, overextend ourselves when we don't and we hold ourselves to impossible standards of perfection. Keep your holiday-season goals (e.g. family fun, helping those in need) in focus, remind yourself that you're only human and that there's always next year!