Five ways to avoid stress during the holidays
The holiday season is full of joy and beauty -- but high expectations and pressure to create the ideal holiday celebration can lead to anxiety, stress and eventual burnout.
This year, take some simple steps to bust stress so you and your loved ones can enjoy the true meaning of the season.
1. Stay healthy
With all the shopping, cooking, decorating, entertaining and other tasks associated with the holidays, you may be tempted to take exercise off your to-do list. Don't. Whether you work out at the gym, walk in the neighborhood or take a yoga class, physical activity is one of the best ways to burn off tension, clear your mind and boost vitality. Keep your mood and energy level high with plenty of sleep and a healthy diet of lean protein and plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. Go easy on the holiday treats, rich hors d'oeuvres and cocktails.
2. Pamper yourself occasionally
Take time out from your responsibilities and endless to-do lists to savor some alone time, even if it's only for a few minutes a day. Making time for you will pay off in a better attitude and better relationships with those you care about. Get a manicure or a massage. Or make yourself a bubble bath, complete with scented candles, soft music and a glass of wine. Don't forget to turn off the phone and lock the bathroom door. (Guard dog optional.)
3. Fight the urge to spend, spend, spend
If you don't leave shopping until the last minute, you can take your time to create unique handmade gifts or treats for coworkers, neighbors and your child's teacher. For family and close friends, you can shop more thoughtfully when not rushed and purchase an item that reflects the recipient's personality. Whatever you do, don't stress over finding just the right gift. Everyone loves a gift card. Whether you craft or buy gifts, make a list and a budget and stick to both. When everyone is checked off the list, stop buying.
4. Focus on the people who really matter to you
If you don't have the time or energy for one more neighborhood cookie swap, don't sweat it. Spend time with people who support and care about you. If there are people in your life who consistently ruin the holidays, find a way to avoid being with them, if at all possible.
5. Spread out the fun
Don't think everything has to be done by December 24, advises Atlanta mom Rhoda Dunwoody. Plenty of celebrating and fellowship continues into the new year. Spread out the fun and enjoy the season. No one cares if your Christmas card arrives on December 21 or December 27. If you get a really late start, send New Year's cards.