5 Strategies for Beating Holiday Stress

Christmas is coming! It’s less than three months away. Are you ready?

How many of you just groaned? Come on, admit it. Many of you aren’t ready for the holiday season. Perhaps you agree with some of the top reasons other people hate December: Holiday stress is rising

  1. You hate fighting the crowds and standing in line.
  2. You know all the yummy treats that abound at Christmas, and you don’t want to put on weight.
  3. You just finished back to school shopping and you aren’t prepared for all the gift giving.
  4. The holidays are typically a busy time and you just want a little time to rest and be still.
  5. Christmas brings lots of family time, and you don’t have the best relationship with one or more family members.

Well, stop groaning. With a little preparation and a few practical tips, you can make the upcoming holiday season better than ever.

Yes, I know it’s September (almost October). Come on, start now! You’ll be glad you did.

1. Fighting the crowd

No, I can’t make the crowds go away. But, you can build in some extra space in your mind and your calendar so the rush and long lines aren’t quite as frustrating.

  • Know that store is a seven-minute drive from your house? Plan on ten minutes.
  • Think it should take you ten minutes to park, run in, grab the couple of things you need, and pay? Plan for twenty minutes.
  • Comparison shop online, and buy what makes financial sense—from groceries to presents—online.

Giving yourself extra time can add patience. And if you aren’t stressed about making your next appointment, you can take those moments standing in line to enjoy the holiday decor and excited children around you.

2. Weight gain

Say no to goodiesThis is one of the hardest places for me to stay disciplined about, but I try to stay focused forward.

  • How do I want to feel tomorrow?
  • How healthy do I want to be on January 1st?
  • Is what I’m doing today helping or hindering that?

Yes, sometimes it means saying no to another high-calorie goody. But when I get to tomorrow (or January), I’ll be thankful.

3. Financial strains

Guess what? Christmas comes every December 25. It never changes. That predictability means you can plan ahead, even if you haven’t yet saved a single penny.

Start with a budget. Who are you going to buy presents for? And about how much do you think you want to spend on each one? Make your list, add up the amounts, then divide by three. If you can’t put aside that much money each month for October, November, and December, then you need to make some changes.

  • Can you take anyone off the list?
  • Which presents can you make yourself for less?
  • And don’t underestimate the gift of time. One of my favorite gifts was homemade goodies delivered throughout the year by a dear friend.

If you want more help, check out my book Finances: A Military Spouse’s Biblical Guide to Personal Finance.

4. Busy Days and Nights

In addition to our normal busy schedules, December can bring more stress at work as the year comes to a close. It also tends to bring more social gatherings, both in the workplace and with family and friends. What do you do?

Plan ahead. What do you do about social gatherings?

  • Think about all the parties you already know will likely happen. Which ones can you skip, or at least attend only for a few minutes? Which ones can you and your spouse divide and conquer, or rather, have only one of you attend?
  • Consider the people you most want to see over the holiday season. Put them on your calendar first, but be creative. Some of these gatherings could be early morning coffee or a Saturday brunch.

If you want more help gaining control of your calendar, I recommend Declutter Now! Uncovering the Hidden Joy and Freedom in Your Life.

 

5. Troublesome Family Relationships 

This may be the most heart-rending problems of the season, and there really aren’t any easy answers. Whether your relationships struggle because of personality conflicts or past tragedies, you can find greater peace and joy.

If you need help gaining perspective on healthy relationships, you can read my book Your Extended Family: A Military Spouse’s Biblical Guide to Surviving Within and Without Your Family.

I also highly recommend everyone read Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life.

 

Which one of these five areas will be toughest for you this year?