Eliminating Holiday Stress
Plan ahead. Last year were you scrambling at the last minute to get all the presents wrapped on time, or to coordinate airport pickups for out of town relatives? Take the time this year before the beginning of the holiday season to set out a game plan for everything that you need to do. Figure out when your shopping or when handmade gifts need to be done to avoid a last minute rush and forgotten presents. Plan your meals so you won't be lying in bed the night before wondering if you made enough Jell-o salad to feed 15 people. Start as early as you need to, start in the summer if you have to. Every minute you spend planning before the holiday season comes will save you hours down the road.
Keep it simple. Don't try to make every craft, decoration, and fantastic meal or dessert that you've seen in the magazines. Remember that those magazine shoots are pulled together by a legion of designers, editors, photographers, writers, and hundreds, maybe thousands, of dollars. No normal person can duplicate that same look while maintaining their sanity and a positive balance in their checking account.
Try to find ways that you can simplify your regular holiday routine. Do you really need to make cookies for your entire neighborhood, or will a few plates for close neighbors do? If you usually make five side dishes for the big holiday meal, just focus on a few favorites that people look forward to every year. Buy coordinating wrapping paper, bows and ribbon that can be used on gifts for males and females of any age. This will help you buzz through wrapping marathons as you sit on your living room floor enjoying timeless holiday movies.
Stay focused. What is your goal during the holiday season? To spend time with family? Create new memories? Or are you more concerned with impressing your neighbors with big holiday displays and wowing friends by purchasing the most expensive gifts you are able to buy? Family matters most during the holidays, and your focus should be on spending a quantity of quality time with them. If you find yourself wanting to add one more decoration to your list, or pursuing one more project, ask yourself if doing so will honestly add to the good feelings of the holiday season. If it won't, drop it and keep your heart on what really matters.
Ask for help. If you volunteered to host the big family holiday dinner, don't try to outdo yourself by making all the main dishes, sides, and desserts. When people ask if there is anything they can do to help out, don't hesitate to speak up. Chances are that they remember what it was like when it was their turn to host the big affair. Ask you siblings to bring extra chairs and tables. Ask your aunt to make her famous dinner rolls. Recruit your cousins to help you carve the turkey or bake the candied yams. You can even ask older children to set the table and help wash the dishes when dinner is done. Family events should not be a one man or woman show. When everyone pitches in it eliminates the chances of a few overworked people becoming stressed out and losing their cool.
When you look back, the time that you spend with loved ones during the holiday season should be filled with more happy than stressful memories for you and for everyone involved. Remember that your main focus is to build a welcoming atmosphere and celebrate the season with those you love. If you follow these tips, this is guaranteed to be the year that you won't spend the holidays ripping your hair out or having a breakdown over the mashed potatoes.
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