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Keeping holiday stress in check

Tiernan McKay is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado. Her writing has appeared in magazines such as Alive!, Occupational Health and Safety, Restaurants and Institutions, Tampa Bay and Arizona Woman. Right now, she is either ridi...

Beat holiday stress

For most of us, the holiday season brings with it a mixed bag of emotions. While it's always fun to spend time with friends and family, holiday stress is a very real issue that seems to creep in at the most inopportune times. Here are some tips for beating holiday stress.

Stress Christmas woman

There are a myriad of factors that contribute to holiday stress. Some come with the festive territory, but others can be avoided. Paying attention to your surroundings and schedule can help beat holiday stress and create a joyous environment for the entire family.

1Get real

During this time of year, we are inundated with Utopian images of the perfect holiday decor, holiday menu, outfit, party, etc. These images can cause a lot of unnecessary and self-imposed pressure, making a stress-free holiday seem unattainable. "Disregard any images from what you've seen on TV and in the movies over the years about what the holidays 'should' look like," says Sherri Ziff Lester, a Life Coach based in Los Angeles. "Instead, talk to your family about what brings them joy, how they feel appreciated, what it means to be giving and loving -- and create new holiday traditions that fulfill that unique, special family vision."

2Stick to a schedule

Given all of the events and commitments that pop up during the holidays, it's tempting to throw your family's normal schedule out the window. To eliminate holiday stress for both you and your kids, resist. "Try to arrange events around your child's normal schedule," suggests Saundra Dalton-Smith M.D., physician, mother and author of Set Free to Live Free: Breaking Through the 7 Lies Women Tell Themselves. "If your kids would normally be in bed by 9pm, rather than plan a midnight hot chocolate Santa party, move it up to 8pm to be more accommodating."

3Enlist help

This festive season can be a magical time for kids, but kids can also be the biggest impediment to a stress-free holiday for you. Long days without school can lead to boredom if you don't keep antsy hands busy. "Build a gingerbread house, decorate Christmas cookies or a cake for the family gathering, cut and decorate ornaments to hang on your tree, or ask your children to help set the table," says Dalton-Smith. "Creativity releases endorphins that cause relaxation and decreases stress."

4Control impulses

Between parties, shopping, cooking and gift-giving, there are plenty of demands on our time and wallets. Nothing piles on holiday stress like having too little time or money, so think before committing. "We all are guilty of 'mindless' purchases that we do without thinking, but this concept also applied to time," says Mandy Williams, co-author of What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired! Keep in mind that you probably can't do everything you want to do and you can't have everything you want to buy. Once you've embraced these truths, a stress-free holiday can be yours.

More stress-busting holiday tips

How to REALLY enjoy the holiday season

Learn three tips to enjoy the holiday season.

More on coping with holiday stress

Holiday stress: Stay fit and keep your sanity
6 Ways to reduce holiday stress
Top 12 ways to beat holiday stress


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