How do you cope with Holiday stress?

The very thought of holidays has a life of its own.  For some people the idea of cooking and baking and preparing, and hosting and wrapping , toasting, celebrating is the high water mark of the year… something to live for, and to embrace.  And for so many it is a time of stress and mismanaged expectations.   Holidays don’t have to bring anxiety or stress . While I dislike those quick lists that solve the world, sometimes there is wisdom to be found there.  So here is my running attempt at reducing stress during the holidays.

  1.  Plan your life ahead – begin to think about what you want to do for the holidays months before.  Planning helps to be organized at how to tackle everything you want to accomplish.
  2. Set practical goals and make simplified plans – This may not be the year to have 30 people over for that giant stuffed turkey with all the fixings.  Maybe its is a pot luck with each person bringing a side, a salad or a desert.
  3. Make a schedule for accomplishing specific tasks that will ease the stress as the holidays approach.   I like to take 2-3 days to wash windows and curtains, vacuum, dust, and deep clean the house at least a week before.
  4. Be wise on who you invite over – It’s probably politically incorrect to say that some people are just impossible to live with, let alone have over as guests.   If you know that someone always complains and bothers you take a deep breath and don’t invite them over.  Sometimes it is the combination of people who make the event fun or crazy.
  5. Keep the food simple – If you just do a main dish, salad and dessert that is enough…. less is more.  Just make it simple and great… and that will be sufficient.  People come for the company, and the food is a side benefit
  6. Accept that family is family – good, bad and everything in between.  If Uncle Bill always says unanticipated things give him latitude, or if Aunt Gert always has critique of the food, the table setting , your dress, house, hair or life…. take a deep breath, and divert attention in another direction.  Family will always be family.
  7. If finances are an issue – change your style, go simpler, or accept that invitation to a friend’s for dinner.After our financial crash of 2010 I have not yet gotten back to hosting Thanksgiving at my house… and while i miss the smells, and sights and sounds.
  8. Pick your attitude, and choose a good one.  That was a plaque that hung on an old friend’s cubicle… but the idea is this… determine not to stress out. realize things beyond your control will happen, and let it go, choosing instead to find joy and celebrate those people around you.

Holiday stress happens.  That is a fact.  But it is not etched in stone that we must react to it.  A better choice is to plan, adapt, and celebrate what we can.  And let go of what cannot or will not change.  As I analyze my own life it is clear that the best times during holiday stress have come when things just fell into place… the food looked good, the guests had fun, the meal was simple, the joy was immense.  As we approach the holiday season i would love if you shared with me your tips and tricks for gaining the victory over the stress monster.  I think we all have stories of conquest of that ugly beast.

Have a lovely Thanksgiving All!