How to Manage Stress During the Holidays

Aaarrrrrrg! The holidays. By the time you’re ready get together with your loved ones and share some holiday cheer you’re so downright fraught with exhaustion and filled with tension from the hustle and bustle and anxiety about who wants what and ready to kill that old lady that just sailed into the parking space you patiently and appropriately waited for with your turn signal clicking away that you can’t imagine a better way to spend Christmas morning than in your bed with the covers pulled up over your head.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some suggestions on how to get through the holidays and actually be able to enjoy yourself and your loved ones once they arrive.

First: Start early. This is the principle from which all the other hints will dangle. It is imperative. Forget about all the last minute sales and stop the “I still have three weeks” mentality. It is death to the stressed out shopper. I like to be finished by Halloween, but absolutely finish before Thanksgiving. Once Thanksgiving approaches, the holiday season is officially in full swing and everything gets taken up a notch. The clock and the crowds all start bumping up against you after Thanksgiving, and you’ve got enough to do just getting that turkey stuffed and the cat hairballs vacuumed out from under all the furniture.

Second: The internet is your friend. On line shopping is God’s gift to the holiday basket case. You can do your browsing at home or during some free time at work. Put things in a virtual shopping basket and save it so you can ponder your choices and make sure you won’t be experiencing that post shopping dread that everything you bought for everyone is absolutely wrong. Everything will be oh so conveniently delivered directly to your home, no lugging it upstairs to your fourth floor walk up. And the best thing of all is that if you have a rewards credit card it will do doubt offer places you can e-shop through their website sites to earn extra bonuses. Let’s go miles card, Hawaii here I come!

Third: Have everything wrapped for you. Most on line sites will offer a “we’ll wrap it for you” option. Go directly to that button and click as if your life depended on it. They’ll even attach cards for you (which is also helpful when you have to figure out which beautifully pre wrapped package contains what and for whom). If you broke down and hit the retail stores, ask about gift wrapping. All major department stores and most specialty stores offer it, some for free. If none of these options work for you, bribe a niece or nephew.

Fourth: When it comes to the holiday feast, cheat! Have your local grocery store do the cooking for you. You can pre order your turkey, stuffed and ready, your choice of delectable side dishes, an assortment of pies, even the cheese and cracker plate. Transfer everything to your own dishes, hide all the evidence, and most importantly, taste everything so you know how to answer your Aunt Belinda when she says “it looks delicious, what’s in it?” Whether you confess, evade or outright lie about the creation of the meal is up to you, but everyone, especially you, will enjoy your presence more if you’re not anxious and miserable.

The holidays can be a great time to reconnect with family and friends. Don’t let the demands of the season take away your jollies. With some planning and a few labor saving strategies, you’ll be as perky as a turkey and loose as a Christmas goose.

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