The holiday season got you stressed out? For many people, December is a less than joyful month, and Christmas a day filled with anxiety, exhaustion, disappointment – or maybe a little of all them.
There is no reason for this to be so, except that our modern culture has perverted the holiday, turning into yet another occasion for greed and materialism – not to mention an occasion where people are forced into an arbitrary obligation to do certain things and act certain ways. You wouldn’t be caught dead with your slovenly cousin…except that he is family, and you are required to pretend you like all your relatives on Christmas.
If you choose to celebrate Christmas, it doesn’t have to ruin your New Year. It doesn’t have to be the Day of the Dread. December doesn’t have to be an overly busy month filled with meaningless activities, leading to the largest credit card bill of the month come January.
Christmas can be a truly simple, peaceful, and joyful time. I have written on this topic before, and even made a video about it (embedded at the end of this post). So if I repeat myself, forgive me. The message bears repeating.
Here are eight ways to reduce your Christmas stress.
1. Reduce gift-giving.
Some families draw names, and only buy one gift for the one name they draw. Some families give gifts only to the children, and only three each just as the toddler Jesus received three gifts.
If you are working to get out of debt or know you should be, create a gift budget and stick to it. Promise yourself a special treat (within the budget, of course) when you accomplish this goal.
2. Just say “no.”
If you’re a parent with kids in school, go ahead and plan to attend all the concerts and plays they are involved in. Aside from that, refrain from committing yourself to attending more than two or three parties or other holiday get-togethers during the month.
3. Be done shopping by December 15.
Nothing like last-minute shopping to cause a surge of stress hormones and lost sleep. If you have not already done so, make a list, then spend one or two days shopping. And be done.
4. Shop online.
This is probably a no-brainer for most of you; however, the lure of sales and pretty decorations and visits to Santa still attract many thousands of shoppers to malls every December. Shop at your favorite department store’s website, instead. Spend the time you save watching a funny or inspiring movie or taking a stroll through a white-frosted park with a loved one.
5. Keep moving.
The hustle and bustle of the season knocks many out of their workout routines – at a time when they need it most! Several studies have shown that regular exercise reduces stress. Taking ten minutes twice a day for a power walk will do wonders to reduce your stress levels.
6. Hang around people you really like.
This is tough for a lot of us. Sometimes, you really like one in-law but can’t stand their spouse. Ditto for aunts, uncles, and cousins. But if you have a choice, choose to spend the special day with the people you get along well with.
7. Accept, don’t dread.
That said, many of us end up on Christmas or Christmas Eve having to deal with relatives with whom we can’t see eye-to-eye on anything. How do we handle this? By beginning to dread it the day after Thanksgiving, and letting that dread grow until December 25.
Talk about stress! Who’s getting injured here, you or your relative? Yes, you are. What do you think about all that power you’ve given over your unwitting relative?
And chances are, when you finally get to leave that person’s presence for another year, a couple of days later you look back and realize that it wasn’t nearly as bad as you thought it would be. Plus, you now have over 360 days to plan your first Christmas in the Bahamas – or, if that relative happens to live in the Bahamas, in Switzerland or Japan.
8. Don’t add to your plate.
I could be talking about eating here, as most of my readers will probably eat one too many sugar cookies this month and drink one too many glasses of eggnog. But what I really mean is, if for some reason you have a lot of obligations this month that you can’t get out of, don’t add more projects to the line-up.
Don’t start planning next spring’s garden (especially if it’s your first garden). Don’t start a blog that you hope will make you rich in a couple of years. Don’t invite contractors to make a bid on the bathroom remodel you’ve saved up for.
All of that will keep until the New Year – and if you let it keep, you’ll maintain a bit more of your sanity.
Like stories? The video that follows gives similar advice in a story form. I’ve had one viewer that I know of practically cry over it, it blessed her so much. May it bless you, as well.
If it does, please give it a “thumbs up” and share it with all your social media networks. Thanks! 🙂