Holiday Stress Relief Tips

Gold dotted paper with words Collect Moments not things

Last-Minute Holiday Stress Relief

Now that Thanksgiving is over, and the Christmas season is in full swing, you might be feeling a bit more stress than usual. In addition to your typical schedule of work, home and kids, you’ve got more shopping to do, menus to plan, and food to prepare. The good news is, even with all the extra activities and preparations, you can still reduce your holiday stress.

Gold dotted paper with words Collect Moments not things

Here are some proven strategies to help you lessen that last-minute holiday stress. You may find that some are so effective that you’ll choose to use them all year long, not just during the holidays!

Perfectionism is for the movies. The commercials and movies on television during the holidays really miss the mark when it comes to realistic portrayals of family holidays.

  • Accept that you can enjoy some beautiful holiday get-togethers regardless of whether something is spilled or you’re having trouble locating your favorite dinner napkins.
  • Furthermore, most people will hardly notice if the pies were baked a little too long or you forgot the cranberry sauce.

Scale back on holiday plans. It’s natural to want to re-create the good memories of childhood holidays, but this strategy can cause a huge amount of stress. Scaling back your plans may involve letting go of your “perfect dream” for the holidays.

  • Deep down you know you don’t have to repeat that special holiday memory you have in your mind. You don’t have to find the perfect gift, spend the most money or have a room stacked with wrapped packages to show your love to others.
  • Live the theory that “it’s the thought that counts.” Most people will never remember the cool thing you got for them that one year. But they will have warm memories of the time you spent together as a family.

Have a plan for your holidays. Yes, it’s a little late to worry about it now, but can you imagine how much less stressed you’d feel if you had all your gift shopping and wrapping done in October? Last-minute planning never did anything good for your stress levels, so if you do have events you haven’t started planning for… start now!

  • Also, plan your holiday menus well in advance of using them. This way, you’ll have the menu set and the store lists made. As the holidays get closer, review your menus and shopping lists and make any minor adjustments you want.
  • Spreading holiday tasks out over longer periods of time means you’ll have less stress during the holiday season.

Use time-saving shortcuts whenever possible. If you sit down and think about it, you can no doubt come up with easier ways to do things that will provide more time for other holiday tasks and activities.

  • One good example: Rather than doing all the baking yourself, divide it up between family members or order them from a local bake shop.
  • If you’re really not sure what to get someone, don’t be afraid to select gift cards as holiday gifts. The fact is that many people prefer receiving a gift card as they can then choose exactly what they want. Gift cards are easy to shop for, satisfy nearly everyone, and will cost you less in wrapping paper. Basically, gift cards are “no fuss and no muss.”

Be selective when it comes to holiday events. Think about what the holiday season means to you, and then only take in the events that match that meaning. Avoid getting caught up in the commercialism that has taken over the entire holiday season.

  • Some would say “it’s all about the shopping.” However, it’s worth your time to think about what ideas you hope to portray to your friends and loved ones during the holidays.
  • Let go of feeling required to plan and carry out elaborate, lavish celebrations. Maybe you’d really rather have smaller, more intimate gatherings with friends spread out over a month or two, rather than a big whoop-de-doo that makes it difficult to really connect with others.
  • The best way to teach your children that the holidays are about giving to others is to take them to visit local charities or even to serve meals at a church soup kitchen.

It’s not too late to get a handle on your holiday stress. Let go of the need to be perfect, and the last-minute planning habits. Opt for a smaller celebration, take advantages of any shortcuts you can, and you will go a long way to reducing your stress levels.

Most importantly, really think about what you really want the holidays to mean to you and your family. Then, you can let go of expectations based on the past and really enjoy your time together. And ultimately, isn’t that what the holidays are for?

This concludes the Holiday Stress Series for 2013.  If you missed any of the previous articles in the series you can find them here:
Part 1: Seven Ways To Beat Holiday Stress
Part 2: Non-Negotiable Holiday Self-Care Tips
Part 3: Holiday Travel: 5 Tips For Getting There Safely and Peacefully
Part 4: Spending the Holidays Alone? That can be a good thing!

woman in front of fire with hot chocolate

Spending the Holidays Alone? That can be a good thing!

Holidays can be a very stressful time when you have a family around to share them with. They can be even more stressful when you are spending them alone. It’s so easy to feel left out, sad, and alone when everyone around you is paired up in couples or in family groupings.

Instead of giving in to the stress and depressing feelings, there are things you can do to make your alone-ness during the holiday season a positive experience. Whether you do things for yourself or for other people, there’s much about the holidays that can keep you from feeling alone in the world.

A little bit of planning and self-reflection can go a long ways toward creating a unique and stress-free holiday season. Here are a few ideas to consider if you are spending the holidays alone this year:

  1. Take a trip to somewhere you’ve never been before. When you travel, there’s always something new to see. Being alone is okay, because you’re busy learning and doing new things. Even if you stay close to home or are only gone a few days, the break can be very refreshing.
  2. Volunteer to help others. Whether you read to children, visit the elderly in a nursing home, hand out food at a soup kitchen, or give of your time in some other way, you’ll quickly see that you have much to be thankful for. The people you help will appreciate you, as well.
  3. Be a blessing to as many people as possible. What can you do for that struggling coworker, the person who just missed his flight or someone else who’s alone during the holiday season? There are plenty of ways you can help people other than volunteering anywhere specific. Look for ways to help others wherever you go.
  4. Network with others who are also alone. If you can find a group of widows, divorcees, or others without family close to them over the holidays, get together with them. What starts out as commiserating may turn into a lot of laughs. Create great holiday memories that you can hang onto all year long.

woman in front of fire with hot chocolateEven when you have family and friends to spend the holidays with, it’s good to make some time just for yourself. Not only does it give you a chance to rest and recharge, spending time by yourself and learning to be happy in the quiet times of your life can help you move forward in understanding yourself and others. It also helps to reduce the stress of being around too many people if that’s something you’re not really used to.

Your time alone — whether by choice or circumstance — gives you that stress-free zone where you don’t have to worry about what others think, or about where you fit in the family dynamic. You can choose the celebration that best fits you and your lifestyle.

Putting a positive spin on being alone at the holidays is an empowering experience. When you choose a holiday celebration that fits who you are, you can embrace the season with joy and come out the other side feeling refreshed and ready for the new year. You will feel more confident with yourself, and with others, and have more to give back long after this holiday season is over.

Flower print old suitcase in field

Holiday Travel: 5 Tips For Getting There Safely and Peacefully

“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” ~Benjamin Disraeli

The holiday season is the heaviest travel time of the year. Driving or flying is stressful enough without adding to it. But there are situations you just can’t predict or control when you travel. Delayed flights, traffic jams and lost luggage can make even the calmest person get stressed out. What you can control is planning as much as possible and your response to travel glitches.

Here are five ways you can exert control over your holiday travel to ensure you arrive with your inner peace intact.

1. Have a travel plan…

The more organized you are for a trip, the better. If you have experienced a disorganized trip you probably have had some travel disasters. One of the best ways to organize a trip is using a travel app, like Travel Tracker. You can keep track of flights, hotels and all of your travel plans. It also includes a customizable packing list, too. You can easily begin your packing list while waiting in an office. There are also reminder lists on this travel app that will help you for longer holiday trips.

Some people prefer to write down a packing list. You can make a packing folder that includes all important documents and lists. Your packing list is something you can start while watching your favorite show at night. Begin by listing self-care and hygiene items. Then list what clothing you will need for one day for each person. This will give you a beginning packing list.

If you are driving, make sure the oil is changed and tires are properly pumped up on the car. Checking out the health of your car can save gas and possibly prevent breakdowns or accidents. Make sure your emergency roadside kit is up to date and ready in your trunk.

2. When it comes to packing…

Green floral and brown luggage bag in a fieldPacking lightly is more important than ever with strict luggage weight rules and baggage fees. Over-stuffing a bag can be a problem for a couple of reasons. If you are flying, it can delay the scan of a carry-on bag.

Bulky, heavy luggage is also difficult to lug around and can cause strain on your shoulders and back. Plus, everything is sure to be wrinkled. Most people over pack items just in case they need them at their destinations. Planning ahead of time and being as realistic as possible about what you need can reduce your stress.

There are a few tips that you can use for stress-free packing:

  • Roll your jeans and tee shirts. This technique will create more space and prevent wrinkled clothes.
  • Find the fine line between over packing and smart packing. Use every nook and cranny of your suitcase. Pack socks in your shoes. Use plastic bags for undergarments and anything that can leak.
  • Are you staying in a hotel? Hotels usually have hairdryers, irons, and other amenities that you don’t have to pack. Check what your hotel offers before you leave.

3. Keeping boredom at bay…

There’s nothing that makes travel seem endless like boredom. It’s essential to have something on hand to pass the time. Purchasing books or other items ahead of time will save you money. Loading up your MP3 player is a great way to pass the time and get caught up on audio books or podcasts. Add relaxation technique audios to nip stress in the bud.

If you are traveling with children, find safe, inexpensive items from dollar stores to keep kids entertained. Also, find games that require no pieces, such as “I Spy” or finding as many license plates from as many states as possible when traveling by car.

4. Keep your energy up…

Drink water on trips, since caffeine dehydrates your body and ultimately causes you to feel tired. Drinking water helps more to keep you alert in the long run. Not drinking much water on a trip to prevent stops will cause fatigue and other health issues. Keep hydrated and you’ll notice difference in your energy and focus.

Buying snacks at the convenience store can be both unhealthy and expensive. Pack fruit you can easily eat when traveling in the car. Make sure some of the food you pack doesn’t require a cooler. Dried fruit, nuts, trail mix can be healthy alternatives to chips or other snacks. You can pack energy bars when flying to avoid high-priced airport goodies.

5.Finally, allow extra time for everything…

From the time you start planning right up until you are ready to leave, procrastination can rear its ugly head when getting ready for trips. It’s easy to think “I have plenty of time” to do this or that. That very thought is a big red flag to get moving on planning for your trip.

Also give yourself extra time at the airport, even up to 2-3 hours, depending on the city and destination. This will avoid that last-minute travel madness.

At the end of the day, remember what your trip is all about.

You made a decision to travel for a reason. Keep in mind why you are making this trip. It will outweigh a very long drive or flight, aggravations and pushy people you meet along the way. Sharing the holiday with loved ones can help offset any hassles along the way.

This post is adapted from my upcoming book “Stress Relief Holiday Guide: How to create peace and happiness during the holiday season,” available online November 19, 2013.

Woman enjoy hot chocolate by Christmas Tree

Non-Negotiable Holiday Self-Care Tips

“Love yourself first, and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” – Lucille Ball

Woman enjoy hot chocolate by Christmas Tree

[Part 2 in the Holiday Stress Series]

In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to take care of everyone else. The only problem with that is unless you are paying attention, your own self-care can end up at the bottom of the list.

It starts with telling yourself there’s not enough time in the day to love and care for yourself. This is not true. You absolutely must block off some time for yourself each day.

Find the special time during the day when no one else is around — even for 15 to 30 minutes — and claim it for yourself. Cherish that time and never give it away. Spend it doing something that gives you complete bliss, like meditation, reading, yoga, or other pastimes. Defend that time as you would give it to a loved one. You are that important.

Here are a few more non-negotiable self-care tips to keep in mind through this busy season.

Keep connected to your tribe.

Your tribe may be those people that you spend the holiday with, but then again they may not especially if you have to travel long distances to be with family over the holidays. These are the folks that laugh and cry with you and love you no matter what happens. These are your go-to people when the world seems at an imbalance. Make time to keep them in your life. They will be the ones to help keep you real during times of stress.

For every yes, say no. 

It’s far too easy to say yes. And before you know it, your life is filled with a long to do list. Make a habit to consult with your calendar every time someone asks you to do something. Give yourself space. There is never a rush to commit to a task.

Watch your self-talk.

As the stress of the season ramps up, it’s easy to get down on yourself. Begin to examine thoughts or statements that include should, always and never. These words may mean you are beginning to criticize yourself or use controlling behavior. An example is “I’ve always done it this way,” leaving no other option or path to get a task done. Other words to watch out for have to do with beating yourself up. A rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t say something to put down a friend, don’t say it to you, either.

Get real.

Give yourself space to develop realistic expectations. Pace your projects and avoid the temptation to start something at the last minute.  Be flexible when setting your holiday plans and goals. You may find that situations change after setting a goal. Revise goals as needed.

Do all self-care as usual.

Keeping a consistent schedule is so important this time of year. There is a tendency to skip meals, get less sleep and forget your own needs. Your calendar is your best friend right now. Keep on a routine and refuel your body regularly.

Always remember… You are enough.

Self-worth is not measured by how much you do. Self-worth doesn’t come from things outside of you. It comes from within. So, take a breath and make the time to care for yourself. Balance changes as time moves forward. Remember self-care will help you rebound from holiday stress quickly.

 Click here to schedule a 30 minute complimentary call with Lisa and find the hidden time in your day. You deserve it.

Father reading to his daughter under table-tent

Seven Ways To Beat Holiday Stress

Part 1 of the Holiday Stress Series

It’s that time of year again. The holiday season is fast approaching, and while it can be one of the most wonderful times of the year, as the song goes, it can also be one of the most stressful times of the year.

Holiday stress can come from many areas in your life including family and relationships, travel, shopping and money issues, and a general feeling that there’s not enough time to get everything done that needs doing before the big day.

Over the next few weeks we’ll take a look at all of these issues in more detail, but to kick off this series, here are seven tips you can use to save your sanity and keep holiday stress at bay.

1. Go with the flow

Even the most detailed plans can be subjected to changes that are out of your control. If you can go with the flow and be open to changes you’ll be less inclined to feel stressed when everything doesn’t go according to plan.

2. Don’t lose your temper

It’s pretty much inevitable when you’re in a large group of people that there will be disagreements. Don’t get sucked in to arguments between your relatives and you’ll find that family get-togethers are much more enjoyable.

3. Ask for help

Having too much to do is a given over the holiday season. From baking to shopping to planning parties and decorating, it can all be pretty overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or delegate tasks to other family members.

4. Learn to say no

Don’t feel that you have to be all things to all people. There will always be one more thing to do and one more event to attend if you don’t keep an eye on the calendar. Learning to say no and mean it will not only lessen your stress, it may just be the catalyst for getting help with all the other holiday tasks that need to be done!

5. Shop early

Getting your Christmas shopping done early is one of the best ways to relieve holiday stress. You won’t have to deal with the crowds of last minute shoppers or worry that the perfect gift is out of stock when you get to the store.

6. Take care of yourself

Yes, you are supposed to think of other people during the holiday season, but you won’t be much use to them if you don’t think of yourself too. A few minutes to yourself each day can do wonders for your holiday stress, as can eating right, keeping up with your fitness routine, and getting enough sleep.

7. Make your own traditions

It’s lovely to have family traditions for the holidays. In fact, some would say it’s the traditions that make the holidays. When you’re the one charged with making sure all the traditions are followed, it’s also a huge source of stress.

Ask yourself if you really need all these traditions. Before you completely discard the suggestion, hear me out:

Families change. Situations change. Some of the traditions that you follow may not really fit your lifestyle or your family today. Sure it’s nice to always cook a full dinner, or start baking holiday cookies the day after Halloween just like your mother did. But sometimes the stress and tension it causes just isn’t worth your health and well-being.

If you find the old traditions stressing you out too much, why not consider making new traditions that fit your family better and allow you to take part in the festivities rather than staying in the kitchen to make sure everything looks just the way it did when you were young.

When it comes right down to it, the holiday season is meant to be a happy time to share with family and friends. Put these tips to work for you when holiday stress comes knocking, so that you can send it on its way and get back to enjoying the season as you are meant to!

The Special Touch at Christmas

Giving an extra special touch at Christmas means something different to everyone. Every Christmas stirs up special memories of my father for me. He loved Christmas more than any other holiday. When I was a little girl, Mom and Dad would decorate the house both inside and outside. Christmastime was filled with rich family tradition. On Christmas Eve at dusk, we began turning on all the lights on the trees, wreaths and candles in the windows. A special treat on Christmas Eve included lighting the luminary candles that lined the driveway.  Daddy and I would walk around the house looking at the decorations. The light’s reflection glistened in the crisp, white snow. He held my hand so tight to make sure I wouldn’t fall. I truly felt safe and felt protected from the world.

 In 2006, I celebrated my last Christmas with him. There was one special memory that remains so close to me. That year my sister gave us tickets to see the play, “A Christmas Story.” Daddy sat beside me to watch the play. It was cold in the playhouse so we were given blankets to put in our laps. Daddy chilled easily so I tucked him in to keep him warm. We held hands and he squeezed my hand just like he did when I was a little girl.  I felt so safe holding his hand, and remembered that time in life where nothing could ever hurt me or cause me pain. The world was so much different than that special Christmas so many years ago. Time and experiences had left scars on my heart. I knew the stress and pain of life. But I also knew the joy of love.

The holidays bring touching memories back to most folks. The focus is a bit different the last six weeks of the year. You go the extra mile to buy a present and create a fabulous dinner. You put extra care into everything you do.  As the holiday season winds down, don’t stop giving that special touch. Reach out and hold the hand of the next person. Keep giving the love, kindness and patience to people the year round.

I miss that special touch from my father. But I know he is in every snowflake that falls, every wreath that is hung and every tree light that twinkles. He always knew what mattered most.

May you know all the joy, health and happiness this holiday season and spread peace to each and everyone around you.

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