Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Dr Shawn DillThe holiday season is supposed to be the happiest time of the year, and yet, somehow it often turns into a stressful, sleepless, overscheduled race without a finish line in sight. Instead of embracing holiday cheer as we should, we find ourselves dreading this time of the year.

Indeed, the holidays can be stressful but rather than letting those stresses get to you, make a commitment to yourself to actually enjoy and appreciate the holidays for what they are – spending time with the ones you love. Here are five helpful tips to keep you stress-free this holiday season:

1. Ask for help. Don’t feel the need to throw holiday parties, decorate the house and buy gifts all on your own. By teaming up with friends and co-workers to plan the office potluck, trimming the tree with your kids or asking your spouse to lend a hand when it comes to fighting the crowds in the stores, you don’t have to shoulder all the responsibility and manage all the details on your own. Asking for help is a sure way to avoid feeling overwhelmed when you have too much going on.

2. Just say no. You are likely ambushed with requests for time and money during the holiday season, but giving to everybody else means that you leave nothing for yourself. As much as you would like to (or think you are obligated to) host another party, volunteer at another function or give to another charity, you have to draw the line somewhere. Don’t be afraid to say no. Say it sincerely and with a smile, and you should be fine.

3. Don’t forget what the holidays mean. In the mad rush of the holiday season, we tend to forget about the real meaning of the holidays. Instead of making an appearance at every social gathering in the city, spend time watching holiday movies and drinking hot chocolate with your family. Decide to scale back pricey store-bought presents and give thoughtful handmade items or the gift of time. Simple is sometimes best.

4. Make a budget and stick to it. Think about how much money you plan to spend during the holiday season before you start buying anything. Set aside money for gifts, food and festivities. Don’t forget to figure in tips for service providers. Before you begin shopping, make a list of what you need to buy and don’t stray from that list. Impulse buying even if items are on sale can result in a huge financial hit over the holidays.

5. Make time for yourself. Even if you’re feeling pulled in a million different directions by a million different people, you can’t do anything for anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first. Take care of yourself by eating healthy and avoiding overindulging in high-calorie treats (but don’t beat yourself up if you enjoy a few cookies). Be sure to make time for those important routines in your life such as yoga class or weekend runs. Treat yourself to a relaxing massage in your Human Touch chair and give yourself bonus points if you do so while enjoying the twinkling lights on your Christmas tree. Use this time to reflect on those things in your life that are most important to you. After all, isn’t that what the holiday season is supposed to be about in the first place?

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