holiday stressInstead of the song lyric “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” holidays can be ‘the most stressful time of the year.’  With all there is to do (gifting, decorating, and baking), places to go (cocktail parties, family gatherings, and school recitals), and people to see (friends, family and colleagues), life can feel overwhelming. Here are ten ways to reduce the exhaustion:

  1. Simplify. It is often the addition of things, people, and activities to an already busy life which turns the holidays into a hectic mess. Instead plan for the interruption by setting aside blocks of time without an activity planned. Any task such as cleaning out the garage that can be diverted till after the New Year should be eliminated from the schedule.
  2. Clarify. This is not the time to do activities or travel to see family without wanting to do it. If there is no desire, the event should be avoided. Don’t add to the schedule anything for which is designed to please others at the expense of personal energy.
  3. Participate. Allow each family member to choose an activity or meal that they want. No matter how young or old the person is, the gesture will be much appreciated and can reduce family tension.
  4. Create. This is less about making something and more about allowing the imagination to flow over the wonder of the season. Use this time to pull something from the images conjured that can be done in the present. It could be a trip to warmer or colder weather, ice skating outdoors, or trying out a new set of recipes.
  5. Smell. Interestingly enough, one of the best ways to increase relaxation and reduce the side effects of stress is to breath in an appealing scent. Perhaps this is why the latest craze is the essential oils, scented candles, and aroma therapy. Finding a fragrance that is appealing might take some effort but it can bring about almost instant relaxation.
  6. Reflect. What does this season mean to you? What is important about it and who is most important? Make the answers to these questions be the intentional focus of the holidays instead of the distraction of stuff, malls, traffic, and meaningless events.
  7. Balance. With everything going on this time of year, it is easy to forget the basics. Don’t forget to exercise, eat right, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, and take vitamins. These things are even more important now when the routine is a bit frantic.
  8. Rejuvenate. Extroverts draw their energy from others while introverts require alone time to rejuvenate. When things are busy, this need for restoring energy levels is even stronger. While one hour of alone time or friend time may work the rest of the year, two is probably needed now.
  9. Absorb. Nature tends to be the great equalizer in resetting emotions, thoughts, and senses. Take a few minutes every day to absorb the outdoors regardless of the weather. Just pausing to look at a tree can be extremely beneficial during this time.
  10. Silence. This should not be reserved for the movie theatre. A few moments of silence can bring a sense of peace and contentment. Use this time to be aware of emotions that rise to the surface and release any negativity.

The holidays can bring out the best and worst in most people. This year, give yourself and other family members the best stress free version.