Holiday Stress Relief Tips

Nine Ways to Have a Happier Holiday Without High Stress

While the holidays can create some of the most joyful times in your life, they can also be the cause of a lot of stress. The stress can stem from a variety of situations such as family arguments, scheduling issues, and money problems. So how can you have a happier holiday season?

No matter what situation your stress is coming from, it’s important to take steps deal with your stress as best as possible.

Try using some or all of the following tips:

1.   It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect. 

Chances are if you planned out an event, it probably won’t go exactly as planned. Every event has a glitch or two. Take a deep breath. Plan for the unexpected. Remember it’s your love, caring and intention that are most important to your friends or family.

2. Take Time Out For You.

We take time to think of others during the holidays. While that’s very important to maintain, you can’t forget about yourself in the process. Remember to schedule “me” time and focus on winding down. In order to take good care of others, you first have to take care of yourself.

3. Keep Your Temper.

While it may not be an issue with every family, sometimes a get together cause conflicts. Before you enter a family holiday event, remind yourself why you are there. You don’t want an argument to ruin your chance at a memorable holiday.

4. Keep Up Your Normal Routines.

Sometimes the excitement of the holiday season can mess with your daily routines. A little break from exercise might make a difference when it comes to your stress level. Try to keep up some type of exercise, as it will give you a release from stress.

5. Watch Your Diet.

It’s not fair to completely avoid yummy treats around the holidays, but at the same time you should eat in moderation. Watch what you’re putting into your body, because large amounts of certain foods can definitely affect how you feel. The two huge ones to watch are caffeine and sugary sweets.

6. Buy Yourself a Present.

While you’ve been budgeting money for everyone else, there’s no reason why you can’t buy yourself a little something. After all, you’re sure to be getting something that you want. You can even schedule yourself a massage, which is an excellent way to maintain a healthy stress level.

7. Get to Bed.

The excitement certainly kicks in during the holidays. Sometimes you’ll lose sleep because of stress, staying up late to finish extra tasks. Do yourself a favor by concentrating on relaxation and getting to bed at a decent hour. Losing sleep can set you up for extra stress before you know it.

8. Learn to Ask for Help.

Just about now you might be realizing that you have taken on way too many things. It’s time to delegate the tasks. Be aware enough to realize when you need some help and ask for it.

9. Be Prepared.

You probably have ideas in your head of how you’d like certain holiday events to play out. You also know that things don’t always go as expected. Realize that certain things will not be perfect, and you won’t feel so much stress if things do go wrong. Go with the flow and have back up plans if needed.

Warning Signs of a Holiday Perfectionist

No one is perfect… that’s why pencils have erasers. – Author Unknown

Being a perfectionist can crank your stress level during the holiday season. Folks go the extra mile or two to create those perfect holiday touches. But when are those extra touches too much?

What can kick holiday perfectionism into motion?

Holiday time triggers different feelings and memories in all of us. Holiday stress can start with trying to get back that feeling you had as a child. Television commercials or other advertisements can push guilt buttons and create an unrealistic idea of what makes a perfect holiday season.

To make matters worse, there is such pressure to get into the holiday spirit earlier each year. Decorations are out in retail stores in October, lurking behind the Halloween pumpkins and skeletons. The anxiety to get everything done gets kicked up a notch two months earlier.

What is perfectionism?

According to the dictionary, perfectionism is a tendency for being unhappy with anything that is not perfect or does not meet extremely high standards. In this case, the perfectionist focuses on what isn’t done and can feel let down if the expectation was not met.

There is a fine line between going the extra mile and perfectionism. There are some activities that people just love to do every holiday season.  Some people enjoy baking a special family cookie recipe every year. Others love to wrap gifts, adding handmade bows and ornaments. The need to be perfect can be invasive, and bleed over into everything you plan or do. The high demands of perfectionism can truly increase your stress, exhaustion and disappointment,

Being perfect is not a real goal

Shannon, mother of two shared her overwhelming holiday stress. She told me how she stayed up late every night to prepare for the holiday, only getting four hours of sleep. “I just want everything to be perfect.” I asked her what a perfect holiday was like and she sat in silence for a moment. “I’m not quite sure,” she said. “I see a home with the extra finishing decorating touches-candles, perfectly trimmed tree and everyone thrilled with their gifts.” She then went on in detail how dinner, time with her children, other family, office parties and other activities were to play out. Shannon sat exhausted in her chair with an empty, hollow look in her eyes. She felt disappointed, despite all the work she had done.

Warning signs of holiday perfectionism

Here are some warning signs that you might be a holiday perfectionist:

•    There is no room left on your calendar, especially time for you
•    You push yourself past your physical and emotional limits
•    You put yourself down for not getting a task completed to your standards
•    You feel like everything you are doing is just not good enough

What can you do from here?

Do what matters most. Look at what the holiday season means to you. Be clear about your priorities of what is most important in how you want to spend your time. This will help you fill your time with people, places and things most important to you.

Be aware of perfectionist tendencies. Now that you are aware of some examples of perfectionism, you might see some thoughts or behaviors you’d like to change. Know what triggers you tp procrastinate or push yourself over the limit

Ask for help. Be careful not to fall into the trap of doing everything yourself. It’s easy to slip into thinking that no one can do the task like you. Or, it takes too much time for someone else to do the present wrapping. So it would be much easier for you to do it. Those are signs that you might have taken on too much.

For every yes, say no. Scan your calendar and make sure you have blocked off time for you. It’s so important to fill you up so you can keep going during this stressful time. Know that if you try to do everything, you leave yourself open to exhaustion and possible illness

Falling into holiday perfectionism can spoil the joy of the season. Be aware of the warning signs and free yourself from the high stress this holiday season

How to Reduce the Stress of Holiday Travel

No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.  ~Lin Yutang

Remember the lyrics to "Jingle Bells?" Folks were laughing all the way during their holiday travels. Today, getting to grandma's house might be a little more difficult, but there are still ways you can make it much less stressful.

Try these holiday travel tips to make your trip more pleasant.

1. Give yourself plenty of extra time to travel. Staying calm is easier when you give yourself plenty of lead time. When you think you have extra time to get to the airport or other destination, leave even earlier.

2. Expect to run into snags. That extra time will come in handy and may prevent you from missing a flight. Keep an extra change of clothes and toiletries with you in case some luggage gets lost.

3. Ship your gifts directly to the recipients. Never wrap gifts until you get to your destination if flying. Your gifts will be unwrapped by your TSA agent, not your grandmother.

4. Travel during off-peak hours. Early mornings, late nights, and the middle of the week may be less crowded. Shorter lines are a great way to reduce stress and travel fatigue.

5. Start out well rested. Avoid the tendency to push yourself before your trip. You can manage everything much better after a full night's rest. Try to get full night’s sleep before your trip. If you are taking the red eye flight, sneak in an afternoon nap. Being well rested leaves you a little more resilient for any stress along the way.

6. Pack healthy snacks. Avoid fast food at the airport. A protein bar or a bag of homemade trail mix will give you more nutrition and energy.

7. Limit caffeine and alcohol. Watch the amount of martinis or lattes when traveling, Flying is dehydrating, so alcohol and caffeine aggravate the effects. They can also make it more difficult to relax. Drink more water instead.

8. Bring your favorite music or books. Always load up your favorite portable device with music or the latest book release. Add any relaxation recordings to quickly chill if you get stressed along the way. This is a great way to relieve stress naturally as well as pass the time

Holiday travel can be tough, but you can make it easier on yourself. Plan ahead and use simple meditations to lift your mood and enjoy more peace of mind.
 

Stress and Holidays: When Is It Too Early to Start Holiday Shopping?

stress and holidays, shopping, holiday shopping tipsHoliday shopping seems to be starting even earlier this year. I went to a well-known store the other day only to see the holiday department filled with decorations. Each year the trees, lights and ornaments seem to get displayed a little earlier. Some stores even have Halloween costumes next to tree lights. It can seem a little overwhelming to think about holiday shopping and celebrations creeping up on you. So I began to wonder how you could benefit from early holiday shopping and get stress relief at the same time.

It’s a little hard to get in the mood to holiday shop but shopping year round can actually be a huge stress reliever. There is so much pressure to get the perfect gift. But habits that you have used in holiday shopping in years gone buy may actually be adding to your stress.

A great deal of major companies are already trying to compete for you money. Best Buy, Amazon, WalMart and even Target are already having price wars and matching their competitor’s tags. A recent survey from Decide Inc., a consumer price research firm revealed the best time to go searching for some deals was before Black Friday. These items include jewelry, watches, flat screen televisions and toys. Other items such as video game systems and tablet devices it was best to wait for that favorite day after Thanksgiving.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.-Rita Mae Brown

A well thought out plan can actually help you right now. How many times have you said “I’m never going to do ‘xyz’ again to get ready for the holidays?” Now is the time to plan and prevent the horrible stress you have during November, December and beyond.

Here are some questions to take a look at before the hustle and bustle of that season begins:

• What matters most during the holidays?
• What traditions are most important to me, my family and friends?
• What can I do to best take care of myself over the next 2 months?

Getting clear about why you make certain choices shopping can clear away so much stress. Answering these questions can clearly help you plan and know why you are making your choices with purpose.

Set your budget. This one task can prevent you from months of debt and heartache. Keep track of what you spend as well. This will help prevent that last minute impulsive buying spree that can lead to trouble.

Making a list and checking it…several times. Set aside 15 minutes to sketch out shopping plans. Oftentimes, just listening or watching what people love throughout the year can help you get started. Start to pay attention to things folks pick up in stores or talk about during the day.

Watch circulars, ads and internet deals. Once you know what you are looking for then shopping just got easier. Your eyes will be scanning for your shopping list items.

So is it too early to plan for the holiday season? Maybe not. Take a look at what you don’t want to repeat this year and plan accordingly.
 

Tips for a Stress-Less Summer Vacation

A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in.  ~Robert Orben

Summer is officially here and it’s time for rest and relaxation. Enjoying less stress during summer travel can make or break a memorable trip. Whether you are hitting the road or staying close to home here are some tips for stress-less summer travel:

Pack ahead of time. Check the weather for your vacation destination ahead of time. This makes your packing a cinch. Some destinations may add specialty items to your list if you are heading to the beach or mountains. Think about what you would need for a day and move on from there. It’s easy to get carried away and over pack.

Are you tight for packing space? Roll your clothes to fit more items in your suitcase. Visit your nearest dollar store to get travel size containers. Check out what amenities your hotel has in advance so you don’t bring extras. Most hotels have basic toiletries and a hairdryer.

Use a notebook with folders to keep track of all you travel plans and packing lists. Better yet, use a travel app to keep track of all of your plans from hotels to restaurant reservations. There are also packing apps to make sure you have everything you need.

Must pack items include:

• Sunscreen. Nothing can put a damper on a vacation like having bad sunburn.
• Camera with battery charger
• Extra bags for souvenirs
• Games and activities for the kids
• Travel wipes and tissues for the car.
• Small plastic grocery bags for easy trash disposal

Get the car ready. 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. Want the best gas prices on the road? Try the GasBuddy app to find the lowest prices on gas when traveling. Make sure your emergency roadside kit is up to date and ready in your trunk.

Pack healthy food and drink. 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.

Travel foods can include:

• Nuts
• Cheeses cut into cubes
• Trail mix
• Cut up veggie sticks

Stay hydrated by drinking more water than usual. Remember you are more active and in the summer heat and dehydrate quicker.

Relax. Now that you are on vacation put down the electronics. Unplug from the world and enjoy your vacation plans. Dive into that book you’ve been dying to read. Listen to that new music download while chilling out. Give your mind, body and soul the rest it truly needs.

 

holiday stress

Stress and Self-Care: How to Recover from Post Holiday Stress

The holiday season has come and gone. January can be a time for recovery from holiday stress, or what I call post-holiday hangover. Gone are the days of indulgence and hanging with your family and friends. The work and social schedule seem to be returning to normal. The decorations have been boxed away, or most have at least thought about it. You might be feeling an emotional and physical let down after running on adrenaline to finish holiday preparations. The holiday bills will be arriving soon in your mailbox, if they haven’t already.  You may be looking for balance again in work and family life but have truly decided that there are not enough hours in the day.

A common way to cope with such a quick jolt in your life may be attempts to control everything around you. Stress begins to increase at home and work and it’s easy to grasp at micro-managing those parts of our lives. Then toss in any resolutions you may have made and life can quickly become unmanageable. In other words, you begin to control the outside world when your insides feel chaotic.

Prioritize what’s most important to you. These are the things keep you at peace on the inside. Here are some tips for a smooth life reentry from the post-holiday stress hangover:

Block Off Time for Yourself

Your mind may tell you there’s not enough time in the day to give love and care for yourself. I am going to tell you that it’s not true. Find the special time during the day when no one else is awake- even for 30 minute. Cherish that time and never give it away. Spend it doing something that gives you complete bliss, like meditation, reading, yoga or a walk around the block. Defend that time as you would give it to a loved one. You are that important.

Keep Connected with Your Tribe

Your tribe people may be those that you spent the holiday with. They 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.

So, take a breath and care for yourself. Balance changes as time moves forward. Remember self-care will help you rebound from post holiday stress quickly.

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