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Top 7 Tips to Shrink Holiday Stress
By Sue Brenner, PCC, PMP
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Do you feel a slight pang of dread when you hear the word "holiday?" Do you find that instead of feeling joyful you feel stressed and overwhelmed? While you are not alone, the holidays don't have to be so stressful. Use these 7 Tips to shrink your stress so you enjoy the holidays this year.
- Decide what matters.
What do you want to have happen over the holidays? What's most important to you? Perhaps you'd like to entertain and try new gourmet asparagus appetizers. Maybe it's to spend a relaxing vacation with your family in Hawaii. Or, maybe you want to reconnect with your spirituality. SSelect the one or two things you want most during the holidays and focus on those. Drop some of the extra things like get-together number 12, madly shopping till midnight and traveling to a new state each day to see every relative you know. Honing in on a couple of things you can control will give you a big stress reduction and a boost of enjoyment for the holiday.
- Do less.
You've decided what matters to you, but you and your spouse have four work parties thrown your way. Both of your kids are in school plays. Your neighbor wants you to attend an open house. You haven't bought any gifts for those on your list. What to do?
Pick a few important or fun events to go to that line up with your holiday ideals. Skip the rest. Don't want to party till 3 a.m. with the sales force at the boss's house? Kindly decline. After last year's 24-hour wait at the airport, perhaps you and your family decide to stay home this year. From doing less, find extra time to take it easy. Build up your reserves of self-care to better handle stress and to prevent exhaustion. Do less. Enjoy more.
Does your manager really need another coffee mug? Most of us already have too many things spilling off of our desks and out of our closets. Keep your gift-buying to a minimum. Prepare a short gift list for coworkers or forgo that list altogether. Buying quality food items or gift certificates will minimize the overflow of stuff and keep shopping simple. For family, get into the habit of buying just a few things for your kids. Go for quality time over lots of stuff. What they want most from you is your time, so if you buy your child a new train set, sit down and play trains for a while. Also, suggest drawing names if adults still want to exchange gifts. When you have to buy gifts, group as much as you can into one store. Or, dedicate an hour in front of your computer and buy online for one-stop shopping at sites like http://www.amazon.com or find bargains at places like http://www.overstock.com.
- Cut spending.
The American Psychological Association names money as the #1 cause of stress over the holidays. If you follow tip number three--"Buy Less"--you'll be well on your way to cutting spending. Still, things might beg you to buy them. For example, avoid buying a $599 Cappuccino Maker on impulse to dazzle your boss. Instead, budget for each person on your list. When you shop, bring cash only. Leave your credit cards at home to ensure you don't extend beyond your budget. From there, find thoughtful, less expensive items. Focus less on big price tags and more about contributing. Your sister might actually like that best selling $15 self-help book more than the giant $80 coffee table book featuring the history of computers.
- Keep routine.
Leave it to the holiday bustle to throw things off, like workout schedules. If you're used to doing something routinely, like reading each day, keep doing that most days. It'll put more order into your days and give you moments to breathe easy amidst all of the activity. It's important for kids to keep up with routines, too, like daily chores, so things like unwrapping gifts and making meals don't result into a post-hurricane house.
If you find you have more free time than usual through vacation or travel, build in daily calming routines to do by yourself or with others, like taking a daily walk around the block or on the treadmill. It'll give you a chance to slow down, enjoy your time and burn off some of those calories from excess turkey and potatoes.
- Respond differently.
You may be a respected leader at work, but just wait until you mingle with family over the holiday. Over dinner, suddenly every family member remembers you as that "shy boy who colored by himself in the hallways at his own birthday parties." Or, you walk into the party and your brother comments about your weight. You get fired up every time. What can you do? Respond differently this year. For example, try getting really curious when someone insults you. Say, "I'm not sure what you mean by that. Can you explain?" This will stop most people in their tracks. You can also find crafty ways to change the subject. If you have to, walk away. Call your best friend outside on the snowy balcony and talk for 10 minutes. In the end, you are the only one you can change. It might be worth it.
- Laugh often.
One of the best stress busters is laughter. A good laugh lowers stress hormones like adrenaline. At the same time, laughing releases endorphins--your body's natural painkillers--which leads to a greater sense of well-being. Plus, you'll feel a sense of release after a good laugh. This holiday, pick your favorite funny activities. Watch a great comedy, play a silly board game, take turns telling stories or bring out the Karaoke machine. You and all of the people you're with will have more fun and be happier during your time together. Laugh a little or a lot this holiday. Make it a priority. Who knows… maybe after all these years you'll find the once insulting comments from your relatives to be, yes, funny.
Sue Brenner, Performance Coach and author, wants you to get the most out of life and work. That's why she wrote "The Naked Desk: Everything you need to strip away clutter, save time and get things done" - http://x.actionsymphony.com. While youre there, get her free eZine, "Ignite Your Life."
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Article Submitted On: October 30, 2007