Tips for a Less Stressful Holiday Season

Young Girl with Cat on Stress Free Christmas

The holidays can be a wonderful time of celebrating, anticipation and love. If you’re dreading the holidays this year (or every year) then it’s time to make some changes! Start with the items on this list, and we think you’ll find more fun, more joy, and much less stress this holiday season.

Stick to a budget

Financial stress during the holidays is one of the top stressors of the season. Make your budget early, agree to it with your spouse (if you have one), and then stick to it. Contrary to what pop culture tells us, an avalanche of gifts does not buy happiness!

Consider a family gift exchange instead of individual gifts, draw names, or donate to someone’s favorite charity instead of buying a gift. Handmade gifts are also a good option, if you knit or sew or are crafty!

Plan ahead

Even if you’re not normally a planner, sit down at the beginning of the season and review your scheduled commitments. Then, set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and any holiday activities you do every year. Knowing what your schedule looks like in advance will help you see where you are overcommitted or which days/weekends you don’t want to schedule any more activities.

On a weekly basis, take it to the next level and plan your menus and then make your grocery shopping list. Doing so will help prevent that last-minute panic over forgotten ingredients.

Just Say No

Saying no is difficult, we totally understand! But so many of us go overboard to please others during the holidays: we spend umpteen hours shopping, cooking, sending cards, and attending every event that we get asked to go to.

Set your intentions early and tell yourself it’s okay to say no to some things. If it makes you feel better, plan alternative get-togethers or activities in January, when everyone typically needs a mood boost!

Play some mood lightening music

Research has confirmed the soothing power of music and the unique link it has to our emotions. It can be an extremely effective stress management tool that relaxes our minds and bodies.

Here are some great holiday soundtracks that everyone will enjoy:

  • My Holiday, by Mindy Smith
  • Rhythm & Blues Christmas
  • Christmas Through the Years, by Louis Armstrong
  • Christmas Songs by Sinatra, by Frank Sinatra

Schedule a break

When you’re planning your schedule at the beginning of the season (see above), try to schedule in a break from the hustle and bustle. Maybe it’s just an afternoon or a few hours, but do it! Use that time to unplug: head outdoors, settle down with a good book and cup of coffee or tea, or take a nighttime stroll or drive to view festive light displays.

It doesn’t matter as much what it is, as long as it’s relaxing to you!

Let go of stressful rituals

Lots of families thrive on tradition, and actually enjoy it. But if you are dragging the family to see the Nutcracker every year and nobody really wants to go, it’s time to let go of that tradition and replace it with a different one.

Ask your family what their favorite thing to do over the holidays is, and make that your new annual tradition. Think ice skating, chocolate chip pancakes on Christmas Eve, or volunteering to buy gifts for a family in need.