"5 Ways to De-Stress Your Holidays"

Stressed out woman at Christmas

     As if focusing on kids, grandkids and aging parents weren’t enough, the holidays cram our calendars with seasonal work parties, commitments to catch up with old friends and a zillion other compulsory gaieties (note: rhymes with anxieties).

     So how can you ensure that your own needs: mainly getting adequate sleep, exercise and downtime don’t get overlooked? Here are five ways you can enjoy the holidays a lot more by doing a whole lot less:

    1. Do Less. Are you a victim of your own competence? The more capable you are, the more other people ask you to lend a hand (or expect you to volunteer one). But if the mere thought of baking cookies from scratch and writing greeting cards sends your stress level soaring, why do it?  So down with perfectionism! This year, start a new holiday tradition: focus on what sparks joy in your life, not exclusively on what you think will please other people.

   2. Buy Less. One of the biggest stressors during the holidays is the thought of all those credit-card bills hitting your mailbox just as you’re dragging your tree to the curb. If you have a large family circle for whom you normally buy gifts, take the “Secret Santa” route: Everyone in the family agrees on a price limit, then put everyone’s name in a bowl (kids under 10 and the very elderly are exempt), Each person shuts their eyes and pics a single name to buy a present for. It’s fun and far less expensive for everyone.

   3. Cook Less. If you’re the one who usually hosts a certain holiday dinner, consider asking everyone to bring a side dish, a desert or something to drink. You can always show off your culinary skills with the main course.

   4. Eat Less. It’s natural to reach for a bite of comfort food when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. And then another and another until eventually you start to feel even more stressed because you’re packing on the pounds. So be mindful of what you’re eating and drinking around the winter solstice, even if you must keep a food diary to do so.

   5. Travel Less. Leaving home to visit family and friends make the holidays one of the busiest travel times of the year. Instead of getting caught up in the frenzy, grant yourself a “staycation” and do a “belated celebration with family and friends later in the new year. Staying put can give you the gift you wanted most this year with uninterrupted time to relax, refresh, re-emerge stronger and less stressed. What an ideal way to ring in the New Year!

     Again, all of the listed above are about doing "less" of something.  Most of us put  stress on ourselves to get things "just right" at the holidays.  Remember that  you have control over what you do and don't do so mindfulness is key here. Happy Holidays!