De-Stressing the Holidays!

by Jacqueline McLaughlin Hale

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The holidays are here again! That time of year for joy and happiness and an appreciation for all that's "right" in the world. Unfortunately, the holidays are also a time of year when many of us don't feel joyous or happy. Instead, we often feel stressed out and overwhelmed.

The "joyfulness" of the holiday season, it seems, comes with a price. And that price is more: holiday cooking, holiday parties, holiday shopping, holiday housecleaning (after all, it's got to be clean for the parties) holiday decorating, holiday wrapping, etc., etc., etc.! It never seems to stop! YOU never seem to stop. The demands on your time are enormous. You're tired, exhausted and stretched to your limits. All in all you're less "joyful". And some of you, although too embarrassed or ashamed to admit it, may even hate the holidays! Do they HAVE to be this way?

No they don't! And this year, you can take control. With a few suggestions and a little planning you can make them far less stressful and a lot more fun!

  1. Understand that you are normal! I don't know any woman who actually enjoys the holidays. So relax. It's not just you!
  2. No matter what, make sure you get enough sleep every night! All of this extra activity is hard enough so how can you expect to feel good without adequate sleep? Seem impossible? Keep reading!
  3. Go shopping alone! Get a babysitter for your kids, ask your neighbors to help with them, do whatever you have to do. The time you save by shopping more efficiently will be well worth the price, whatever it is.
  4. Shop Monday through Friday between 8am and 5pm (except for lunch hours). If you have to take a vacation day from work to do it, do it! Once again, the time you save and the efficiencies you'll gain by shopping when the stores are less crowded are worth it.
  5. Shop from catalogs and from the Internet as much as possible. And if you're purchasing gifts for those outside your city or state have the gifts shipped directly to the recipients. It will save you even more time from standing in line at the post office to ship holiday packages out. Believe me, Toys R can be a real lifesaver!
  6. Wrap as you go. When you purchase gifts, come home and wrap them immediately. Don't wait until the last minute to do all of your wrapping at once. It's too overwhelming.
  7. Just say no. Say no to parties that you don't want to attend. Say no to commitments that you're not excited about fulfilling. Say no to decorating that you don't want to do. Say no to baking. Say no. You're entitled to take pleasure in the holidays too. So begin by saying no to those activities that do not bring you joy! You and your family come first.
  8. Don't do it the way your mother did it! So often we try to make our holidays just like they were when we were kids. But our mothers lived in a very different time. So think about what you're doing before you do it. If it works for you and your family and you enjoy it, then do it. If not, don't. You don't have to entertain with the good china and crystal if it's more work than it's worth to you! It's okay, really!
  9. Create your own family traditions. Traditions are an important part of our lives. They're ritualistic, ceremonial and consistent, year in and year out. They can help create some stability in an ever-changing environment. Family traditions are one thing that can always be counted on. So create your own. They don't have to be elaborate. They can be as simple as reading "The Night Before Christmas" every Christmas Eve or watching a certain holiday movie as a family on the same night ever year. It doesn't matter what they are. It doesn't matter how small or how large, how elaborate or how simple they are. All that matters is that THEY ARE! Create some family traditions this year and you will create memories for a lifetime!

But whatever you do please remember that the holidays are not about parties and food and shopping and gifts. They're about the people in your life. They're about your family, your friends, and your loved ones; they're about those who have made a difference in your life. So whatever your faith, whatever your beliefs, the holidays are really about sharing your love, being thankful for all you have, giving without the expectation of a return, and hope for the future. They're about the very best in humanity…

Jacqueline McLaughlin Hale is a CPA and the editor of "The Balanced Woman" a monthly ezine. It contains parenting tips, household hints, ideas for pampering yourself and more. Subscribing is easy and FREE. Just send a blank email to: She is also the author of The Woman's Guide to Resumes and Interviewing , Lessons From a Toddler and 77 Ways to Pamper Yourself.

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