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10 Ways to Reduce Stress over the Holidays

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The holiday season should be the happiest time of the year. Unfortunately, all too often the stress of the season takes its toll on merry-makers. A lot of holiday stress is self-inflicted, though, and can be avoided. Here is a common-sense look at what you can do to reduce the stress of the season.

Holiday stress management is critical to enjoying the season, without being overburdened with daily stresses. Reduce your stress levels with these top ten holiday stress tips to keep you even-keeled and jolly throughout the season.

Budget for the holidays

This is a big one. Overspending throughout the holidays not only stresses you out while you're doing it, but continues into the future when the credit card and bank statements arrive in January. Make a realistic budget early — in August or September — for the upcoming holidays, carefully review it, and then stick to it! Do not throw money at merchants trying to buy happiness!

Budget management is always a factor in stress management!

Wrap and ship early

Last-minute gifts can bust your budget and your sanity! Plan your shopping and avoid doing anything impulsively. Wrap everything as soon as it’s purchased and tuck it away until the tree is up and decorated. Ship gifts to loved ones far in advance of the holiday unless you like waiting in lines at the post office, which is a huge source of stress for everyone!

Delegate

Anyone who insists on doing it all alone during the holidays is a candidate for the mental or cardiac ward. To stay sane and reduce stress, you should delegate holiday tasks to friends and family members.

It’s good that you ordered the fruitcake, but you don’t have to be the one who picks it up. Have your spouse pick out the Christmas cards this year while you chill out and count to ten. Anybody can run to the post office, you don’t have to do it yourself. Delegate first, and then follow-up for extra peace of mind.

Involve family

Get the family together and keep them involved throughout the holidays. Start when you’re putting together the budget: Discuss what is available to spend on gifts, travel, and so on, and make sure everyone is on the same page. This will avoid whining or sulking later because someone’s expectations weren’t realized.

Volunteer

Take the time to volunteer at your church, homeless shelter, or community center with your family and friends. The spiritual enrichment which can come from such worthwhile endeavors around the holidays can’t be measured in dollars and cents.

Your time is the most precious thing you have during the hectic holidays, but giving of yourself to the less fortunate is what the holidays should be all about. Do it. You’ll feel better for it. And your own troubles will seem small by comparison.

Exercise regularly

Everyone does their best to trash their bodies during the holiday season. We eat way too much rich and fatty foods, and my how the wine flows when family and good friends come together. The best thing to do about the unavoidable overindulgence is to exercise regularly. A good sweat will do wonders for the toxins and extra calories from the holiday celebrations and can actually reduce stress.

It’s unreasonable to expect you to not partake of the goodness of the holiday table. But by watching your health, you’ll be in better shape in January than those who don’t and feel better about yourself for doing it.

Plan your holiday activities

Double-booking multiple activities on the same day can result in frustrated family members and lost opportunities, not to mention the occasional screaming argument. Avoid this stressful pitfall by using a paper social secretary.

Buy a wall calendar when you make your budget and start listing the activities that you want to experience during the holidays on it. Plays, church services, family meals, and traditional gatherings need to be listed on it along with who is to attend. Post it on the refrigerator and make a rule: It must be on the calendar to happen. This way every family member can see what is planned and when it’s planned to happen and won’t want to go on a Christmas Light Tour when they know they have to be at Grandma’s house for dinner!

Work in some alone time

Do not choreograph, plot, and plan out every hour of the holidays. Factor in some alone time for the sake of your mental health. Remember to do it for the over-achievers in your family as well. During the holidays, we all need to be saved from ourselves!

Embrace diversity

"Peace on Earth, good will toward men" is a common sentiment expressed during the holidays. Peace and good will emerge from acceptance and understanding of a multitude of customs. Take the time during the holidays to learn about other cultures and their traditions and discuss them with your family and friends.

Be flexible

The holidays require planning to enable the merry-maker to get through them without too much stress. But like most things, you can take strict adherence to a plan too far. Being rigid and inflexible will only bring on bad feelings. Use common sense and accept changes to the plan when the majority votes for a change.

Just because you wanted to go to a Santa/Elvis dress-up contest doesn’t mean that the rest of your family wants to go as well. Be ready to compromise, accept plan B, and keep an "Oh, well!" attitude when dealing with the inevitable setbacks to your careful planning. Follow this holiday tip, and you’ll be much saner in January.

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