As joyful as it is spending time with our loved ones, the holidays can be overwhelming.  We might have to cook or entertain guests. Then there’s gift shopping, baking, and decorating the house. So how do we manage it? The biggest step is to realize we don’t have to do it all.  I came to that realization a few years ago, and I have enjoyed my holidays much more ever since. 

I am almost embarrassed to admit it, but I actually have 13 plastic containers of Christmas stuff in my basement. That includes two train sets and a full ceramic Christmas town that I used to set up when my kids were younger. I used to decorate the stairway, the mailbox, the mantle, almost everything in my house. Of course, my husband did the outdoor lights. We then had to shop, cook, bake, wrap and send out cards. 

Although we enjoyed the time we did have with the kids and our families, it just got to be too much. By the end of the holidays, we were exhausted. So, I finally had enough. I thought, "What would happen if I don’t do all of this? Will the Christmas police arrest me?"  I decided to only do the things that actually bring me joy, such as decorating the tree and listening to Christmas music with my daughter, a holiday tradition that gives us a chance to spend some time together. 

I now unpack only two boxes of holiday decor, I send out fewer cards, and I don’t bake as much as I used to. As far as outdoor decorations, I put up a wreath on the door and ribbons on the lamp posts. Instead of traditional lights, my husband sets up the greatest holiday invention of all time,  the floodlight that shines holiday designs on your house. He stakes it in the ground, plugs it in and turns it on - could not be easier. 

When it comes to gifts, none of us need another candle or pair of slippers,  so my family decided years ago to just buy for the kids and, of course, online shopping has made things a lot easier too.

We can’t say the holidays are totally free of stress, but we have more time to work out, have fun and even relax. Most importantly, we enjoy our time with friends and family so much more, and in the end, isn’t that what it is all about?

Here are six useful steps to reduce holiday stress.

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    1

    PLAN AHEAD

    Why wait for the last second when you can get ahead start? Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, decorating, and other activities. Write down your errands on a to-do list, planner, or in your phone to balance it out with the rest of your hectic schedule.

    Start with your highest priorities so that you can move on to the less important and easier tasks. That way, you will not be scrambling to do something at the last minute. So, you’ll be sure to complete most of your required errands for that day.

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    2

    KEEP IT SIMPLE

    The holidays are a time when some of us may want to go all out when preparing the food or decorating our house. While some of us are capable of doing it, others may not. So, keep it simple for yourself instead of trying to perfect everything.

    Rather than adorning your entire house, consider only decorating the tree and main living space where you and your family will celebrate. Instead of cooking an entire meal by yourself, host a potluck dinner. Be sure to remember your limitations and learn to say no when necessary.

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    3

    SET A SPENDING BUDGET

    Before you can even go shopping, think about your financial status. During the holiday season, we may spend hundreds of dollars on gifts, food, and decorations. Since these items becoming more expensive every day, you may go over your budget.

    To lower concern over money, review your finances, research the cost of every product, and create a realistic budget for yourself. Don’t try to buy more than what you can afford for your family and friends. Consider making a homemade gift or discussing with your loved ones on an agreed budget to spend on.

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    4

    ASK FOR HELP

    As mentioned before, don’t handle more than what you can take. Rather than trying to do everything by yourself, ask for help.

    You can have one of your family members or friends assist you while you’re shopping. Also, you can ask them to help you prepare the food and decorate the house. Whatever task it is, your loved ones can take the load off your shoulders to avoid doing too much work.

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    5

    STAY HEALTHY

    Just because it’s the holidays, that doesn’t mean we should neglect our health. Besides being busy, we may also be tempted to eat a lot of delicious food and desserts. This can cause us to overeat or suffer from other forms of unhealthy eating because of the emotional pressure we could be feeling.

    Instead, have a healthy snack before each meal to limit your intake. Also, be sure to work out for at least a half-hour to relieve your stress. Finally, make sure that you’re still getting enough sleep every night to stay fit and energized.

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    6

    MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF

    No matter how hectic your schedule is, it’s still important to make time for yourself to refresh your mind. By putting aside 15 minutes, you can do a relaxing activity such as listening to music or going for a walk.

    You can also do breathing exercises to clear your mind. Better yet, you can also think about the special moments in your life. This will increase your mood and make you appreciate the holiday season even more.