5 Tips for Beating Holiday Stress

Don’t get bogged down this holiday!  (Photo: cranberry bog in my hometown on Thanksgiving morning).

It’s official.  The holidays are upon us.  For now, they tread lightly, like a dusting of snow or reindeer hooves on the roof.  Christmas music is novel.  Party invitations are exciting.  We have plenty of time for DIY projects like baking cookies, making bath salts, or knitting scarves.  We are Santa’s elves.  We are choirs of angels.  We are Martha Stewart.

But, give it time.  Soon enough we’ll be buried beneath a tundra of commitments and costly shopping trips. We’ll dutifully struggle to think of perfect gifts, until our brain short-circuits while listening to Santa Baby for the umpteenth time; our bank account balks, and we panic purchase a scarf for the relative to whom we probably gave a scarf last year.  Eat cookies?  Yes. Bake them?  Hell no. That’s what Joanne Chang is for. We might consider a bath in red wine or coffee, but salt?  Why bother?  Salt is for chocolate covered pretzels flecked with pieces of candy cane. Duh.  We are Scrooge.  We feel like Santa putting on our skinny jeans.  We hate Martha Stewart types.

Not so fast, om gals and guys, this season will be different.  Here’s how…

  1. Schedule stress reduction.  We know the holidays gobble our leisure hours–time previously dedicated to health, fitness, and feeling sane, so it stands to reason that we can prevent this crotchety state by planning ahead.  Take out your date book, open your iCal, or tell Siri to listen up: you need to drop some healthy certainty anchors into your schedule STAT.  If you don’t make time, then the tired adage about not having time for yourself holds true.  But, if you don’t want to be chewed up and spit out on the other side of the holidays feeling like a brittle Christmas tree that’s been clawed by your roommate’s cat, then commit to one weekly yoga class, early morning run, brisk lunch-hour walk, or special mind/body treat now. These gifts will carry you through the new year.  (If you’re in Boston, come to my December De-Stress yoga and meditation workshop).
  2. Make a list.  Check it twice.  People, projected spending, events, and errands: write them down; keep them handy; check them off like a holiday efficiency ninja.
  3. Merrily multitask.  Invite a gal pal to wrap gifts with you.  Keep each other company in a long shopping line.  Tag team a DIY project.  Solutions to holiday stress can sometimes be more fun and social with a little creative thinking.
  4. Use your gifts.  If you want to be successful at anything, play to your strengths.  Beating holiday stress is no different.  Remember what you’re best at and consider how to use these gifts.  Consider time, money, and creativity.  Thinking outside the box can be better than what’s inside it.
  5. Get real.  Chances are you’ll forget a gift, choose the wrong size, burn the cookies, or flake out on an annual party at least once this season.  It’s OK.  The only dude who conquers the world of gift-giving without a gaffe or sign of stress is Santa Claus, and he has lots of help.  You’re one person.  Keep it real, and remember to have a ho, ho, ho laugh whenever things feel less than merry and bright.

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