It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, so why is it that everywhere you go, the people around you are irritable, impatient, and just generally unpleasant? The holidays can be an incredibly stressful time – the house needs decorating, gifts must be purchased and wrapped, there are multiple parties to attend, plus the family is coming in town and you’re expected to cook them gourmet food for several days in a row. Sometimes it can all seem like too much, and you begin to think that this may actually be the most terrible time of the year. However, there are simple steps you can take to help you survive the holiday season and still be merry when the New Year rolls in.
1. Make time for you This is the most important thing to remember as you go through the holidays. Without a little time to focus on yourself, you will quickly lose patience with everything else. You don’t have to make a ton of time, just thirty minutes every day could be enough. If you love your morning cup of coffee, sit down by yourself with a book and your coffee for 30 minutes before you start your day. If a bath would be more relaxing, take 30 minutes at the end of the day to soak in the tub with some nice bath products and unwind from the day. Whatever you do, just make time to indulge yourself just a little.
2. Exercise! Multiple studies have shown that exercise releases “feel good” hormones in your body. If you can fit in even just fifteen minutes of exercise every day, you may give yourself a better chance of fighting off any negative feelings. An added bonus is the extra exercise will help you keep some of the holiday weight gain off as you are surrounded by tempting foods throughout the season.
3. Be choosy Just because you’ve been invited to a party every night of the week does not mean you have to attend every one. If the parties are hosted by close friends or family, you should at least make an appearance. However, you do not have to attend the party hosted by your co-worker who never even talks to you. If you do have multiple parties in a week that you feel you must attend, make the decision to only spend about an hour at each party. By doing so, you have made your appearance without having to lose an entire evening.
4. Simplify gift giving Make a list of the people you know you will shop for and ask them what they want! If you don’t feel comfortable asking them, listen for clues when you talk to them or search their Facebook or Twitter page for their interests. Make a list early in the season, that way you aren’t still trying to find a gift on Christmas Eve. Also, remember that you don’t have to buy multiple presents for everyone, nor do you even have to buy everyone a present. My brothers and I decided several years ago it made our holidays less stressful to agree not to buy gifts. Additionally, there is no requirement that you buy every person in your office a heart-felt gift. If your office traditionally exchanges gifts, then come up with a single, universal office gift (like a tin of your famous fudge or a pair of cute Christmas socks). This will make your shopping experience much simpler.
5. Divvy up the cooking Everyone is coming in from out of town to spend Christmas at your house, but this doesn’t mean you have to cook all week! Maybe you and your mom make Christmas dinner, but let your sister-in-law cover breakfast the next day while the men grill (if you live somewhere warm enough) for Christmas Eve dinner. You’re already hosting everyone, why should you also do all the cooking?
6. Avoid too much alcohol Maybe the problem isn’t that you have to cook for your family but rather that your family just drives you crazy! You turn to a quick drink to help release the tension in your neck, but that might be a bad idea. While it may ease your neck pain, it could ultimately cause more tension. You may loosen up too much and say things you shouldn’t. If your family is driving your nuts, it’s probably best to stick to one drink, two drinks max, to avoid any messy confrontations.
7. Finally, remember the “Golden Rule” Everyone teaches their kids this rule, but so many adults fail to live by it. As you are rushing around trying to get everything ready this holiday season, remember to treat others how you want to be treated. Be patient with slow people in the grocery store, take a deep breath instead of screaming at the “jerk” that just cut you off, and smile at the slightly rude teenager taking your coffee order. You never know what their story may be. The slow grocery shopper may be recovering from knee surgery, that “jerk” may be rushing to the hospital after his father had a heart attack, and that teenage barista may have been yelled at by the last three customers for absolutely no reason. By remembering that everyone is stressed during the holidays, you could save yourself a lot of unneeded anger and ultimately have a merrier holiday season.