Surviving the holidays without stress

Terry RogersCulture, Headlines, Milford Headline Story

Even holiday baking can be less stressful if you plan ahead

Although it is a magical time of the year, for many people, the holidays can bring on significant stress. Between shopping for gifts, cooking meals for guests and the many holiday gatherings that occur between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it can be overwhelming. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, it is possible to have a fun, festive holiday season without all the stress.

The first step to reducing stress during the holidays is to set realistic expectations. There is no rule that says every holiday season must be the same or that everything must be perfect. As your family grows, your traditions may change. Consider holding your holiday celebration another day during the month or have a blended holiday celebration if your grown children want to spend time with both sides of their family. You can also hold a “virtual” celebration using Zoom or FaceTime.

Finances can also cause stress during the holiday season, especially during the current economic times. Before you even begin shopping, set a budget, and stick to it. Decide how much you can spend overall and then create a budget for each person. One option is to create handmade gifts which are often appreciated more than something purchased from a store. If your family has grown large, consider drawing names to reduce how many gifts must be purchased. Be sure that each person also provides a list of items they would like to have within the required price range as well.

Create a schedule of what needs to be done during the holiday season. Break down cleaning by room and plan to complete that one room each week so that it does not feel overwhelming. Decide what you are going to bake and what meals you plan to create so that you can start a shopping list early. Pick up items as you see them on sale even if you won’t need them for a few weeks, so you are not scrambling to find them at the last minute.

Keep in mind that it is acceptable to say no. When you agree to do things that you simply do not have time to do, you will feel resentful and overwhelmed. Of course, there may be times you have no choice, such as when your boss asks you to work overtime to complete a project. At those times, see if there is something you can delegate to another family member to avoid feeling stressed about what you may not be getting done at home.

During the holiday season, it is easy to indulge in some of the foods and beverages we only get that time of year, like eggnog and special baked goods. It is fine to indulge in those things, but don’t abandon healthy eating and exercise altogether. If you are going to a holiday celebration, eat a healthy snack so you don’t overindulge on salty or sweet foods. Continue your regular exercise routine, even if it means getting up a little earlier, but be sure to get enough sleep.  Take time for yourself during the season as well. Spend just 15 minutes a day in a quiet space, relaxing with a cup of tea or coffee, slow your breathing and just push everything out of your mind.

The holidays are a magical time, especially for children, and there are easy ways you can reduce the stress you may feel as you try to make it the perfect season for everyone. By planning ahead and taking the time to take care of yourself, you may discover that the holidays are a magical time for you as well.

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