Enjoy the Holidays Without the Stress

I love the holidays. I enjoy choosing gifts for my family, decorating, hosting and attending holiday parties.

Heck, I even enjoy holiday music.  The holidays, though, can be full of stress. I have to fight crowds to find that perfect gift. Who has time to decorate or cook something for a party? Sometimes that holiday music can drive me crazy.

Can you really enjoy something and be stressed by it? The answer to that is yes.

While the holidays can be stressful, I have a few tips to making it through with more joy than sorrow:

  • Past perfect: Remember those old holidays when everything was joyous and fun? I’ve got news for you: They never existed. Our memories are selective; we tend to forget the bad stuff and romanticize the past. The reason why this is important is that it takes the pressure off us to make everything perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect dinner, or the perfect gift, or the perfectly decorated house, but somehow we find ways to enjoy ourselves. Be happy with what you can accomplish and let the rest go.
  • Stick to a budget: Budget your money and your time; make sure you are not overextended on either. At my home, we set a limit on what we spend for each distant family member. While that might sound restricting, it actually helps us focus on more realistic gifts.
  • Don’t abandon your healthy ways: You have spent most of the year getting healthier, don’t let it all go out the window just because there are temptations around every corner. Eating better and exercising helps you remain calm during stressful times.
  • Be flexible: I just got done saying that you shouldn’t abandon your healthy ways, but if you are visiting someone and all they have is sugar and vice–take it easy on yourself and enjoy what you are offered. If your aunt insists on making cookies for the holiday party, even though they taste like cardboard, it might be better for your health to just let her do it than get in a fight.
  • Be selfish: Find some time to take a break and enjoy something you love. Get a massage, a pedicure, go for a walk, or go out to eat with a good friend. Find something that you love to do that makes you feel calm and do it as often as you can.

It is true that the holidays can be a source of great stress, but it can also be a source of much joy. It may help you to remember that the best gift you can give to everyone around you is a calm, relaxed, and present you.

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