Friday, November 23, 2012

Reduce holiday stress

Now that Thanksgiving is past, many of you will really get serious about holiday preparations.

Do you find this a stressful time of year? Would you like to reduce that stress and enjoy the season more? If so, make a list of things you can either cut from your schedule because they just add to the seasonal chaos—or things you can add that will help you be more focused and serene. Here is just a tiny sample of ideas:

• Consider giving the gift of time to some of those you love rather than spending more time in a crowded mall buying expensive gifts. When our sons were younger, we often gave them gifts such as coupons for cookies or pies of their choice, an hour of playing their favorite game or working on a puzzle, or something similar. And they gave us coupons for doing dishes (even on the night that they weren't assigned that duty) or polishing our shoes, etc. My sons have their own families now.  A few years ago one promised his family a vacation trip they'd all been wanting. That was the family Christmas gift—something they all enjoyed and still treasure to this day.

• Some of my friends and I decided that, rather than shop for gifts for each other, we would pool the money we would have spent and give to a charity. It became a lovely way to share our blessings, and it reduced the shopping list!

• Even though holiday parties can be fun, perhaps you may want to just choose one or two that will be most meaningful and let the rest go.

• Enlist everyone's help with the decorating and keep it simple. Same with holiday meals.

• Send post-holiday cards. You may have more time in January than in December to prepare them, and you can also answer the notes you received!

• Cut out any activity or work that isn't necessary and give yourself the gift of time, too! How about a massage or a pedicure/manicure to treat yourself? And remember to get as much sleep and eat as well as you can. That will help your stress level, too.

Although some activities might be must-dos, you do have some choices. Make this holiday the one where you take control and manage your stress—before it gets out of hand. And let us know what tips you have for doing so. We'd all love to hear in the comment box below.

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