Help for the Holidays

....and just like that, we're in it. Holiday season. 

I'll be the first to admit; my excitement begins with the first pumpkin patch of the season. I'm a huge fan of Fall and Winter. I love the changing leaves, cozy sweaters, fresh, crisp air and, yes, SNOW. The holidays are coming, and it couldn't be a happier time of year. Right?

Even though I may be of the holiday-loving sort, that doesn't mean the holidays are easy. And those of us who belong to the holiday-music-all-day-every-day camp are just as likely to be stressed as those who belong to the are-you-kidding-me-it's-snowing-again? camp once the holidays are upon us.  

Over the years, as I've tranformed from a wide-eyed, Santa-loving little girl to a tired-eyed, Santa-loving mother and wife, I've learned a few tips and tricks to help me cope with holiday stress. And I'd love to share!

7 Tips for Getting through the Holidays:

  1. Plan accordingly. Try not to overbook yourself. Limit your holiday-related events to one, maybe two days or evenings a week. Make sure you leave some down time for yourself to unwind, reconnect with your immediate family, and simply rest.
  2. Set some boundaries. If extended family can be a trigger for you, feel confident in setting some firm boundaries about what type of time committment you can make to them. If your family is coming to you, make sure to schedule some time on your own to breathe. If you're visiting family, schedule an outing for yourself or your immediate family members, partners, etc, that feels comfortable and recharging.
  3. If you are traveling (and more specifically, flying), take a DEEP breath. Traveling during the holidays can be stressful, especially if you are traveling with little ones. Expect it to be busy, and for planes to be delayed. Try to schedule the first flights of the day, and if you can manage it, avoid layovers when possible.
  4. AMAZON! I belong to two wonderful families- one by birth, and one by marriage. My two families deal with gift exchanges quite differently, and I can find it incredibly stressful (and expensive!) to manage this lovely part of the holidays. If you need to get a gift for everyone in your family (or even just your cat!), I highly recommend getting an Amazon Prime membership and ordering online. 2-day shipping, and you can do it from the comfort of your home! No crazy crowds at the mall or ridiculous lines at the post office to contend with. 
  5. Lists. I know not all people are list people, and that's OK. But I find that lists can be one of the greatest sanity-savers of the holiday season. Early in November, create a 2-sided list. On one side, write down all of the names of the folks you would like to (or need to) get gifts for, leaving some room for gift ideas. On the other side, make a list of all of the holiday related-things you need to get done (clean the toilet before in-laws come, bake cookies, plan holiday party, pick up wrapping paper, dig up old recipes, buy something nice for myself for all of my hard work, etc.)
  6. Enjoy the cookies. Just not all of them. Maintaining a healthy exercise and nutrition regime can be really helpful in keeping your holiday stress in check. Just don't go overboard either way. If you love egg nog (who doesn't?!), enjoy egg nog. If you love stuffing, go for it. Just remember to eat wisely the rest of the day and get your exercise. I'm especially a fan of getting outside and getting some fresh air during holiday season. Fresh air and sunshine can be healing and refreshing during the hectic holday season.
  7. Enjoy yourself and your loved ones. This one is the most important. There may be things or people that we DON'T have in our lives that we are wanting or missing. Please focus on those people and things that you do have. Even though Great Aunt Ida may drive you up a wall, practice gratitude for the time you have together and the people and the things that you do have in your life. No matter how hard we think life may be, there is always someone having a harder time. Be kind. Be patient. Be grateful.