Are your holidays usually stressful and jam-packed? Baking, visitors, cooking, family, high expectations, financial woes, a full calendar, parties, events, exhaustion, shopping, gifts, cleaning, and let’s not forget weight gain from all the cooking and baking. Some would say we’ve taken what’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time of year” and turned it into “the most stressful time of year.”
Since the Starbucks holiday cups are out and we’re only a tad more than 5 weeks from Christmas (yikes!), I had a chat with one of our favorite organized women, Lane Jordan. She’s a professional life coach, national speaker and the author of many books. Among them are 12 Steps to Having a More Organized Christmas and Holiday Season and 12 Steps to Becoming a More Organized Woman. She’s also VERY down-to-earth, so qualified to help with this topic!
Here are her top 5 tips for reducing and controlling holiday stress….
1) Less is more
Lane reminisces, “Back in the day, we had one small tree, a wreath on the door and each kid got a couple presents. It’s been all downhill from the second those darn fake trees came out.” Now, people have multiple “trees,” hundreds of “Made in China” Christmas decorations and piles of presents under the “trees.”
At our house, we buy 1 real tree and decorate it with a few ornaments. And, we only use large Christmas decorations that can go up and come down easily – no small trinkets allowed. We have about 15 large pieces that we put throughout our house in 2 hours max. Our house is still super Christmasey and we get to enjoy them for the season without having to dread the take down process. As for gifts, we keep it to a few per person – maybe 1 big gift and a couple small ones. A friend of mine has decided to give each of her kids 4 gifts around this theme: something to wear, something to read, something you want, something you need.
Think about all you do for the holidays - how can you spend less time & money this year?
2) Remember the Reason
“My biggest tip is to remember what the holidays are about in the first place. Celebration, giving and thankfulness for family, friends, our country, our abundance, a Savior – we have SO much to be thankful for and sometimes we can miss that in all the holiday craziness!”
The next time you feel yourself getting caught up in the commercialism of the holidays or wanting to do more, more, more - remember this: according to www.leastof.org, if you make $60,000 per year….
You can’t do it all and you don’t have to do it all! Lane adds, “You can try to have the perfect Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner with the perfect napkin rings, but no one will enjoy themselves if there is a feeling of stress. Guests would much rather be in a warm and inviting place – even if there are no napkin rings and the dishes are mismatched!”
So avoid stress by delegating – have the kids help clean, bake and wrap gifts, plan a day for the whole family to help decorate, ask people to bring a dish to the family gathering and you can do the turkey (tip: you can buy a fully cooked turkey at most grocery stores). Better yet, you could ask someone else to host or just dine out.
Start thinking about it now - what’s on your long “to do” list that you can delegate?
4) Don’t compete
You don’t need 16 trees, 15 impeccably wrapped gifts for each person, or a National Lampoons Christmas Vacation lighting strategy. Lane advises, “Put up a tree and a wreath and move on! The holidays aren’t about competition with your neighbors or giving the best gifts or having the best Thanksgiving table.” That’s part of what causes consumer counseling agencies to see a 25% increase in the number of people seeking debt help in January and February.
This year, make the decision to bow out of the (rat) race, stop the madness and experience the freedom that comes from doing and spending less!
5) Set boundaries
According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, about 45% of women experience heightened stress during the holidays trying to juggle work and family demands, planning for holiday gatherings, shopping for gifts, and cooking.
What? Only 45%?
There’s only so much time, money, and energy to go around, but there are endless requests for all of it! While the season is about giving, you can’t fully give if you’re totally spent. So, take care of you!
Plan time for you to enjoy the season – whether it’s getting to see that blockbuster Christmas movie or a trip to view Christmas lights. Setting boundaries goes for your finances, too, so make a budget and stick to it (see #1 above)! And get your rest – sleep deprivation makes everything seem harder.
Lane also has this suggestion, “Don’t attempt anything NEW! This is NOT the time to repaint your house, update your bathroom, try all new recipes. Hold on all major projects until after the new year. Don’t add something else that’s going to cause stress.”
Now it's your turn! Do you get stressed at the holidays? What are some things you do to de-stress? Have you made major change to bring down your stress level? Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!