Add to that all the recitals, Christmas concerts, parties, and get-togethers, and there is never a chance to take a breath. Now is the time to slow down and get a handle on the holidays before you turn into the Grinch. Learn how dealing with stress can put you in the holiday spirit.
Eight Tips for Dealing with Stress Over the Holidays
This holiday season can be different from years past. If you spend a little extra time planning ahead, you may find that you have plenty of time to decorate, shop, attend events, and relax during the holidays. Below are eight tips for dealing with stress.
Budget Your Spending
The holidays come around every single year. Since you expect them, consider starting a savings account earlier in the year. You will want money for presents, decorations, food, and a little extra if you plan to travel or treat yourself to something nice during the after-Christmas sales.
You might want to assign a dollar amount for gifts per person. Budgeting at Christmastime sounds like something Ebenezer Scrooge would do, but it actually puts you in control and gives you a sense of freedom. You can start setting money aside by planning how much you will spend and preparing for the occasional holiday emergency.
Make a list of people you plan to buy presents for and assign a dollar amount and an idea of what present they would like. By completing this exercise, you have a shopping list and can start looking for the best deals. Even if you have to wait until later in the season to purchase gifts, you will know where to start.
Plan Your Celebrations
You will want to budget for food during the holidays. Plan now what type of celebrations you plan to have at home or elsewhere. You should make a menu of dishes you plan to serve. Do you always make the Thanksgiving meal at your home, but travel to your adult child’s home for Christmas dinner? Make a menu for Thanksgiving and begin picking up ingredients on your regular grocery trip runs.
If you are invited to get-togethers and parties each year, are there any dishes you need to bring? Make a list of those parties and what you plan to contribute. Are there any desserts you can make the night before instead of waiting until the day of the party?
If preparing the meal for your entire family stresses you out, delegate some of the tasks to others or ask for some help in the kitchen. If you have friends and family attending, ask each to bring a side or a dessert.
Stick to Your Routine
During the non-holiday months, you probably have a routine. Maybe you wake up and work out first thing in the morning. Perhaps you spend each evening after dinner reading a book in bed or watching a movie with your spouse. A catalyst for stress is when your routine is off-kilter.
You already know you have more tasks to get done during these months, but you are just as important. Chronic stress can lower your immunity, making it easier for you to catch viruses. Instead, focus on sticking to your routine regarding your health and relaxation times. Prep healthy snacks, engage in cardiovascular and resistance training a few days a week, and spend some downtime each day.
Turn Big Tasks into Mini Challenges
No one says you must drag out every Christmas decoration from the attic and decorate the inside and outside of your home in one day. That is a large enough task to paralyze you into not doing it at all. Instead, break the enormous task down into mini-challenges. How many decorations can you put up in fifteen minutes? You can repeat these mini-challenges throughout the day or break them up over several days.
You may want to do the same thing with gifts. Instead of waiting until Christmas Eve to wrap everyone’s presents, wrap a few each evening after the children go to bed. Or, wrap presents the same day you bring them home. Procrastination only fuels the fire of stress. Want another way to bond with your spouse while dealing with stress? Do these mini-challenges together.
Take Time Out
Sometimes you need to take a step back and have some holiday fun. As adults, it feels like we get left out of the equation for having fun over the season. Is there an activity you used to do as a child and looked forward to with giddy anticipation? You need to reexperience that excitement.
Here are a few ideas:
- Play in the snow
- Go sledding with family
- Watch Christmas movies during December
- Attend the parades
- Eat fruitcake or cookies and drink hot chocolate
- Play card games on Christmas Eve with family
- Drive around and look at people’s decorations
- Go on a favorite hike or spend time outdoors
You should feel excited about this season too. Make a list of activities you want to do this year and invite your family. After all, you are making memories for your children too.
Be Generous with Your Time
Serving others forces us to remove ourselves from the hustle and bustle. It reminds us that Jesus never wanted us to spend His birthday trying to make the perfect wreath or spending thousands of dollars on presents for our overly-stuffed homes. Jesus asked that we treat others with love and kindness, meeting every need we can.
Where can you volunteer this year? Do you spend a day at a soup kitchen? Do you volunteer for a few hours, asking for donations for a local charity? When it comes to financial generosity, do you participate in Secret Santa programs for children or donate toys and coats to families who are barely scraping by? Keep your eyes open for opportunities in your community.
The holiday season can feel extra hard after losing a loved one. This may be the first time you have had to move through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year without that person. Take some time during the celebrations to reflect on that person and reminisce about the funny things they did or said. Talk with your family about how to carry on their legacy.
Pay tribute to their memory, but be prepared to engage with the people around you actively. Your loved one would want you to live your life remembering them, but enjoying the people still with you.
Remember Why We Celebrate
How often have we spent all our energy trying to meet and exceed expectations only to feel relieved when the season ends? This is a sad state. Often, we think this way because we have not centered the entire holiday season on Jesus Christ.
We want to share more about Christ’s birth and how we should live than how many stockings are hanging by the fireplace. You are creating fantastic memories for your children by watching your favorite Christmas movies and reading stories, but do not neglect sharing movies about Christ and reading why we celebrate Christmas. When we share the Christmas story with others, we also remind ourselves that this is why we have freedom from sin and death.
When the Stress Turns into Anxiety and Depression
Chronic stress combined with a chemical imbalance or past trauma can lead to anxiety and depression during the holidays. You may need help dealing with stress. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment with a qualified Christian counselor. You do not have to live in a state of anxiety, depression, or irritability during the merriest time of the year. A counselor can help you find strategies now for effectively dealing with stress over the holidays.
“Halloween”, Courtesy of QuinceCreative, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Christmas Decorations”, Courtesy of Monicore, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Turkey Dinner”, Courtesy of Pictureday, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Family Vacation”, Courtesy of Stux, Pixabay.com, CC0 License
DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this article are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please contact one of our counselors for further information.