If the thought of the upcoming holidays brings with it some dread, you are not alone. Many people get stretched a bit thin this time of year by money and social obligations. Here are 25 ways to keep your sleigh on track this season.
1 Set realistic expectations. Things are not going to go perfectly and that’s ok. You cannot control every outcome, but you can prepare yourself mentally by visualizing your calm, positive response to negative events.
2 Get moving. It is not the chores, shopping or family visits that stress you out – it is your anticipation of them! Act now by creating a to-do list, and tackle one or two items per week through the holidays.
3 Avoid the shotgun approach. You will accomplish more by tackling one thing at a time and giving it your full attention.
4 Budget your holiday expenditures. Set per person limits on gift giving and stick to them. Do not overlook special costs for travel, decorations, food and entertainment.
5 Pay as you go. Charging your purchases may delay your bills, but knowing they are lurking around the corner in the New Year increases stress, whether you think about it or not.
6 Play to your strengths. Use what you have the most of – time, money, or creativity.
7 Pare down on gift giving. For extended family and social groups, suggest each person give just one gift by drawing names out of a hat.
8 Cut your costs. Give inexpensive but thoughtful gifts like home-baked goods or hand-made photo albums. Bundling several small items abound a theme provides a low cost, personal touch.
9 Don’t lose the meaning. If consumerism has you down, check out for a while with inspirational thoughts and reconnect with what makes the holidays special and important.
10 Participate in reaffirming activities. Spend time in a place of worship and in your community with like-minded people.
11 Take some time off work if possible. Don’t cram all errands and shopping trips into the precious little time you have outside work hours. Avoiding the weekend crowds will allow you to get more done.
12 Do a solo power shopping event. Turbo charge your efficiency by avoiding distractions and competing agendas. Pick a time when there is less of a crowd.
13 Take advantage of the internet. Most sites offer free shipping for the holidays. If you see something at a store but cannot find the right size or model, finding it on the internet and having it shipped to you saves lots of time and may cost less.
14 Ask for help. If you are playing host, assign chores and duties to anyone else living with you. Ask for people to bring a dish.
15 Cheer loves company. Combine household holiday prep with socializing. Ask some friends over for a baking and gift wrapping party.
16 Lighten your cooking duties. It is perfectly acceptable to cook a main course and ask dinner guests to bring a side dish.
17 Get on the same page with family. Come to an agreement on what activities are most important and cut out the extras that add work and scheduling pressure.
18 Recruit a child care volunteer. Kids underfoot can add to the stress of big events. Designate one adult to organize games and fun activities in a confined space.
19 Avoid isolation. The holidays can be a depressing time for those who have lost a loved one. Get out of the house whenever possible and reconnect with old friends.
20 Help someone who needs you. Nothing melts away personal troubles like helping someone else overcome theirs.
21 Pass down some wisdom and tradition. Instead of mourning the passing of better times, keep those memories alive by sharing them with the next generation.
22 Review your life priorities. Combat your hectic schedule by reassessing what matters to you the most.
23 Forgive someone. Let go of past resentments and make room for future happiness.
24 Make a gratitude list. Review it whenever you are feeling depressed, anxious, or stressed.
25 Take a “time out.” Indulge in things you stopped doing because you “just don’t have time for anyone” like a long lunch or a night out with friends.
If the holidays do wind up getting the better of you or one of your family members, please remember that the counselors at TAP are available and ready to assist you. TAP services are confidential and there is no cost for a face to face meeting with a TAP counselor. Our phone number is (510) 562-3600.