How to buy last-minute Christmas gifts
What to do about holiday blues

How to reduce holiday stress

The holiday season can often produce real stress. I know. It’s happened to me.

Here are some tips that I’ve found helpful when my holiday stress level goes up:

  • Ask for help decorating your home and wrapping packages.

  • Simplify the holiday meal. Ask people to bring side dishes, desserts, or, if things are very stressful, have a guest bring the turkey or ham or buy it prepared. See if someone can come early to help with all the last-minute details of getting ready, such as ironing the table cloth and washing the wine glasses.

  • Reduce your expectations. If you haven’t found the perfect gift for everyone yet, go to one local store and buy gift baskets or purchase gift cards. See my article “Beware: Gift Cards May Not Be What They Seem” on Boomer411 for information on tips for buying gift cards, including understanding the terms and conditions of sale.

  • Send your holiday cards late.

  • Cut down or eliminate your holiday baking. One year I didn’t have time to make cookies or fruitcake because of writing deadlines. I was pleased that friends brought cookies and a fruitcake as gifts. It was such a joy to receive these gifts.

  • Don’t beat yourself up because everything isn’t perfect. It can be difficult to organize your family’s holiday traditions, especially in these strange economic times. Relax, let go, use deep breathing and muscle relaxation.

  • Talk about your stress with friends and family members. It helps to share your feelings with others.

  • Reschedule events if storms are raging in your area. One family in the Seattle has postponed its celebration of Christmas for a week until the weather improves. Another canceled a trip to California to visit relatives.

  • Be polite to difficult family members. Don’t let them get you agitated and hooked into an argument.

  • Limit alcohol consumption or don‘t drink. It’s easier to deal with details and people who act out if you’re not drinking.

  • Keep the schedule the same for young children. They can get cranky if they miss a nap or a meal due to holiday special events.

See these articles other suggestions for holiday stress reduction:

“How to Reduce Holiday Stress Around Relatives” -- eHow

“How to Cut Down on Holiday Stress With a Simple Holiday Meal” -- About.com

“How to Reduce Tension With Progressive Muscle Relaxation” -- About.com

Copyright 2008, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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