The magical holiday season is upon us. A season full of joy, happiness, surprises and good times. But let’s face it: holidays can bring a lot of stress as well. Family dynamics, traffic, airport lines, mall crowds can all bring anxiety and put a strain on our emotional and financial health. I used to get very stressed out during the holidays. Shopping for gifts was especially stressful. I would go out of my way just to get a lot of stuff for my family and friends and would sometimes hurt myself financially because I used my credit cards to buy gifts. I thought I was being a good friend and family member by doing this. At some point I realized that love is not defined by how much we spend on a gift, or how many gifts we have under the tree but instead by our actions towards one another on a daily basis all year-long. Gifts are nice but they do not make up for a lack of trust, respect, passion and connection.
Now I have a very different approach to the holiday season. If something is causing me stress or anxiety I don’t take part in it. I choose the people I spend my holidays with. If someone is full of negativity, drama, bad attitude I don’t spend the holidays with them, even if they are family. I also don’t stress over gifts anymore. I will have a separate post about gift giving soon. Here’s a guide I put together to help you guys survive the holiday season that I use:
Remember What The Holidays Are About
In our world of consumerism it is easy to get carried away with the commercial version of the holidays. It’s all about spending a lot of money throughout the entire season on food, stuff and activities. Black Friday and After-Christmas Sales exist for a reason. Instead of living the commercial version of the holidays we should instead focus on the true meaning that is behind them: spending quality time with those we love the most. If eating dinner and watching football is something you love doing with your family or friends by any means do it. But just because there are traditional ways of celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas it doesn’t mean we have to follow them. This year I’m headed to Spain for Christmas for a change and I’m really excited.
Being grateful for everything we have is one of the most wonderful things and can help experience true joy and happiness during the holidays. Instead of worrying about mall and grocery store lines, parking, airport security lines, we should take a moment and say thanks for all the amazing things we have in our lives. It’s amazing how our moods can change when we go from complaining to gratefulness. It might also show us how fortunate we are to have those problems compared to the rest of the world, where people are grateful when they have a meal or a drink of water. This brings me to my next point.
Make Time To Volunteer
Volunteering is a great way to connect with family and friends and to give back. When we realize how fortunate we are, we can do something about the less fortunate. There are plenty of ways to help someone in need during the holidays from wrapping and delivering gifts, to making greeting cards. I try to make time to do at least one volunteering activity. This year I’m participating in the Salvation Army angel tree program as a sponsor and gift sorter. It’s a truly rewarding experience. Visit Voly.org to learn about volunteering opportunities in DFW this holiday season.
There is nothing more stressful than trying to figure out your holiday schedule last-minute. Planning ahead on how you are going to spend your time in advance can help avoid feeling overwhelmed or obligated to do something. It can also help avoid paying for last-minute decisions and help you financially. We all know that last-minute holiday travel can get really expensive really fast. The best thing to do is plan your travel at least 3 months in advance and plan local events a month in advance so that you don’t over book yourself. Talk to your friends, family and significant others. Communicate to them your plans so that they can also plan accordingly.
Create A Budget
You can create a budget for the entire holiday season, which includes gifts, food and other activities. This can help you prepare financially and get rid of anxiety. This will also help you stay on track with your financial goals. Microsoft Office and other programs have holiday budget templates to help with the process. I found the one I liked in google docs.
Use Stress Relievers
Find time during the hectic holiday season to do the things that make you happy and help you relax. Whether it’s yoga, running, meditation, reading or anything else don’t forget to make time for these activities and for yourself. Some of us have very big families and we can get exhausted spending all the time with them. Sneaking in a few minutes for ourselves can help manage the stress level.
No matter how much we plan, prepare, and budget, there are always situations that are out of control. The key to a less stressful and a more enjoyable holiday season is to remember to have fun, be grateful and keep a positive attitude.