Have you ever wondered why, as soon as Halloween is over, to-do lists get longer, the days get shorter, and holiday stress creeps into our lives? The holiday season has arrived, and with it comes some stress and a lot of distractions.
If you’re anything like me, the holidays are meant to be a fun time celebrating with family and friends. I love finding the perfect gifts and tying them up with a beautiful bow. I love getting Christmas cards from friends and family, and sending out our own. (Though sometimes at our house they become New Year’s greetings!) We love hosting parties.
But thinking about all the things that need to be done to make the perfect holiday a reality can be overwhelming. Every little distraction pulls us away from “the List”. We fall behind and begin to panic and stress out. What a holiday buzz kill…for us and everyone in the house when it happens!
With all the craziness, and sometimes chaos, we all need some coping skills to get out of overwhelm and into fun! That’s where some easy tips to avoid holiday stress and distractions comes in!
Start small with this list. Choose one or two that seem easiest for you right now. They’re here to help you avoid the holiday stress and distractions that are creeping into your life.
Tip #1: Ease Holiday Stress by planning ahead and setting goals
Remember the vision you had in your head for the perfect holiday? Now is the time to get it out of your head and onto paper. Then you can start the action plan.
- Get organized with your decorations. Pull out everything you have and decide what you need to freshen it up a bit for this year.
- Plan your tabletop and table settings. If you need some ideas, you can find a few on this blog post (Fall Tabletops That Set the Mood).
- Plan your menu and your guest list
- Start your gift list
- Set a goal for when you want these things completed. Be realistic about these goals, give yourself enough time to finish…and then add a few hours or days. It always seems that most things take longer than we think they will.
- Make sure that the spaces you’ll be using for prep, meals, and guests are clean and orderly, especially your prep areas. Remember that it’s hard to get things done when the space you’re working in is a cluttered mess. If not, be prepared for chaos, a lot of setbacks, and…STRESS!
Tip #2: Decide what your holiday budget will be
- Make a budget and stick to it
- Have the right tools and resources before you start, and list the cost.
- What do you need to buy?
- What can you re-use or repurpose?
Tip #3: Say NO when you need to. Don’t feel guilty
- Make it your “best NO”. You don’t always have to say NO to requests from friends or family. And you don’t always need to decline a party invitation. But when the pressure of completing your own holiday plans is getting to you, a gentle “NO” to the request that doesn’t make you excited is your “best NO”.
- Delegate your to-do list between family members
- Your “best YES” is similar to your best NO. Use it after you’ve considered the time it will take away from your own priorities. And you need to be excited about it.
- Busyness is not a virtue, and it is NOT a sign of productivity. If you are taking on too much, the truth is, you’ll probably focus on none of it and risk the chance of doing a horrible job at what you manage to complete.
#4: Set boundaries to avoid distractions
- Ask family to stay away during specific stressful times or tasks (In my case, it was wrapping our stair railings with garland)
- Take a break to be with them later
- When holiday overwhelm is stressing you out, remember that you don’t have to do it all
- You don’t have to see everyone or do all the things
- If you’re not excited about going to an event, or if it drains your energy when you think about it….don’t do it!
Tip #5: Create relaxing surroundings/environment
- Have a supportive environment to keep you motivated and excited. Play holiday music to get you in the spirit. Light scented candles. Open the windows on a nice day for some fresh air.
- Organize your work space to make each task you need to do simple and easy. That means having all the tools you need ready and waiting so you don’t have to stop and run to the store for a glue gun or a bag of sugar at the last minute.
- Clear your work spaces and de-clutter you home. Knowing that you have a calm space around you will definitely calm the chaos of the holiday season.
Tip #6: Maintain your healthy habits
- Don’t skip out on your workout or walks with friends
- Make sure you get enough sleep
- It’s tempting to “test” all the cookies and desserts, but remember your veggies!
Tip #7: Seek a fresh perspective
- Take a break when you’re feeling overwhelmed
- Make a change. I like to call it a mind-flip. Instead of thinking of the project you “have to do”, tell yourself that you “get to bake cookies today”.
- Take one task that drives you crazy during the holidays and tackle it in a new way. A fresh approach just might make a difference. For example, if you dread having to send out holiday cards, enlist your spouse or your kids and split the list.
Tip #8: Be OK with Good Enough
- Be willing to focus on what’s most important
- Be willing to modify family traditions. Decorating our stair railings to the hilt always looked beautiful. My family begged me to do it every year. Since I couldn’t compromise by letting them help (It’s a designer/perfection thing!) I finally used my best “NO”. Holiday decorating is much nicer with that stressful task no longer on my list.
- Don’t always go for bigger and better, when planning your holiday. Do you really need the 10’ Christmas tree when you’re going to be away for most of the holiday?
Tip #9: Remember to Have Fun Along the Way
- Let’s face it. It’s a lot more fun to be with people when you’re not stressed to the max, or so exhausted from working yourself to the bone that you just want to sleep.
- Turn off the devices and start building positive memories. When you think back over your life, you’re not going to remember that you didn’t get everything finished or you missed a text message. Though everyone might still be talking about the turkey that was burned, or the time your pies were eaten by the neighbor’s dog. But that’s just part of the cherished memories created in your home during the holidays. And isn’t that what life is all about?