It seems to me that every year the holidays become more and more of a stressor. Perhaps, this has to do with the fact that the holiday season seems to start earlier and earlier. I can remember the days when the Christmas season started the day after Thanksgiving. Now, it is not uncommon to hear Christmas carols being sung on the local radio stations in early October, and to see Christmas displays in stores before Halloween. Stores are now opening on Thanksgiving day/night to accommodate shoppers. People are busier than ever. It has become quite chaotic, and it is no wonder why I hear more and more folks in my office every year saying, ‘Christmas is no longer my favorite holiday. Halloween is’.
With that said, there are ways to navigate around all this hustle and bustle and keep your cool. The following are strategies for coping with the holiday season, and getting thru it all relatively unscathed :
1. My first suggestion, is one that I myself, actually started implementing this year. It is a simple Christmas savings plan, that I found on Pinterest. In the end, this reduces one’s stress level significantly, because for the average person, when the holiday season rolls around, you do not have to worry about having the funds to purchase gifts. You start this plan at the very beginning of each year, by putting $2.00 in a savings account. The following week: $4.00, the following week: $6.00, and so forth and so on. Every week, you add an even amount in the account by $2.00, so that by the end of the year, if you follow this plan to a ‘T’, you should have nearly $3000.00 set aside for Christmas. If you do not use all of it, simply re-bank it, and let it gain interest. How many times have you said , ‘I cannot even think about Christmas!’ (into November). This is often voiced, because people do not have the money to think about it. With this simple plan, I assure you, you will not even miss it, and it is super easy to do.
2. Along the lines of #1, plan ahead. Aim to, starting in November, attend to at least 1-2 thing per week associated with the holiday season. For example: Week 1: you get your travel/family plans solidified. Week 2: purchase a few gifts. Etc. etc. This will help tremendously, as it gets closer to the actual Holidays.
3. Don’t try to take on too much. Just because you are invited to 50 holiday parties for example, does not mean that you in fact have to attend all of them. The more you take on, the more stress you are likely to have.
4. If decorating is not your thing, consider hiring a student, or someone you know to do it for you! You would be amazed how many people seriously dislike this task (I happen to be one of them), and would truly pay someone to do it, to free up some time and energy.
5. Do not isolate yourself. If the holidays tend to give you the blues, the worst thing you can do, is to stay locked in your home. Get out, enjoy the holiday lights, give back in the form of a charity, etc. My family and I adopt a family for Christmas every year, and that act alone, gives me all the joy I could ask for during the stressors of the season.
6. Do not overspend! Stick to a budget (hint: this is also where #1 comes in very handy).
7. Take care of yourself. Watch your diet, and remember to exercise. I always hear it said, that it is so hard to control your eating habits over the holidays, but in truth, it can be argued, that, that temptation is in fact-year round. Food is everywhere, restaurants are everywhere. Treat your body right during the season, and it will definitely thank you for it.
8. For individuals that suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), phototherapy lights can be a big help. This small investment in one’s mental health, if used properly (roughly about 20 minutes a day), can help a great deal with the depression that comes during this season, where we do not have as much daylight. And this can have a direct effect on your enjoyment during the holiday season.
I hope that this list gives you at least an idea or two of ways to help you get thru the days (and the next year) ahead. Happy Holiday Season Everyone!