Christmas is meant to be all about spending time with family and enjoying yourself, but as you probably know it can also be the most stressful time of the year! We’ve scoured the internet and found these 15 expert tips for a stress-free Christmas so that you can relax and enjoy the spirit. This article originally appeared on Woman’s Day and we’ve chosen our top favorite stress reducing tips so that you can relax and enjoy.
Seek a Fresh Perspective
Make a change. Take one task that drives you crazy during the holidays and tackle it in a new way. A fresh approach just might make a difference. For example, if you dread having to send out holiday cards, enlist your husband and split the list.
Be satisfied with “good enough.”
“Don’t always go for bigger and better,” when planning your holiday, advises Loretta LaRoche, author of Life Is Not a Stress Rehearsal. “Does the tree have to be bussed in from the hinterlands of Alaska?” she quips. “Isn’t a little bush enough?”
Throw away your Shopping List
LaRoche forgoes the stress of shopping for family members in favour of sharing special moments and experiences. She may treat loved ones to a holiday show, for example, or breakfast at a fancy hotel. “Instead of having a package to rip open, we have this wonderful day together,” she says.
Drop expensive, high-stress rituals
If you’re dragging your kids off to see The Nutcracker—it’s a tradition!—but they’re whining every step of the way, make a switch. True, families thrive on traditions, but it’s less about the event itself, which your kids may have outgrown, and more about time together. If your kids are complaining, drop expensive, high-stress rituals in favour of something simple and universally appealing, like a Christmas Eve chocolate-chip pancake feast.
Focus on what’s Most Important
That massive pile of holiday cards needs to get mailed ASAP, but just the thought of it gives you writer’s cramp? “Refocus on what’s most important to you,” says life coach Linda Hedberg. “If you’re overwhelmed with dozens of cards to send out, ask yourself, Which are the 10 most important ones?” Send those and put the rest on the back burner. Or just send an e-card to everyone on your list. Bonus: It’s eco-friendly!
Smell some Lemons
Barrelling through throngs of mall shoppers on the hunt for a last-minute gift? Step up to the department store perfume counter, peruse the testers and dab on a lemony fragrance. According to researchers at Ohio State University, lemon scents instantly boost your mood.
Remember to Have Fun
As you take part in trimming the tree or preparing the Chanukah cookies with your kids, take a deep breath and savour the moment. Give yourself permission to forget about all those tasks still left on your to-do list.
Choose Travel Proof Gifts
With security restrictions at airports being what they are, make it easy on yourself and give gift certificates. Or mail your gifts ahead of time. Rosemire orders gifts online or from catalogues and has the companies send them directly to her holiday destination. Either way, you’ll save room in your suitcase.
Tuck everyone’s sleepwear and toothbrushes in one easy-to-reach bag. That first night when you arrive at Grandma’s house or another destination, you won’t be fumbling through every suitcase before bedtime.
End Travel Hassles
If you’re traveling by car, ensure your vehicle is in good running order for the trip by checking belts, hoses, air pressure, fluid levels and windshield wipers, says AAA spokesperson Jerry Cheske. Contact your auto club, the state police agency or highway patrol regarding road closings or conditions.
Simplify air travel by arriving up to two hours early for domestic flights and up to three hours for international flights. To avoid parking hassles, “get someone to drive you to and from the airport, if possible,” advises Cheske. If you’re picking up a holiday guest, sign up online for a traveller care alert. Some Web sites, including Orbitz.com, will automatically contact you via phone, e-mail or pager to give you updated flight information.
Hold onto Daily Rituals
If you like to read for half an hour before bed, don’t give it up in favour of yet another holiday chore. Our everyday practices help calm and centre us.
Schedule a Break
During the busy holiday season, Brenda DeHaan of Wagner, South Dakota, and her husband seek out one afternoon of serenity. Each year the couple embarks on a leisurely drive, with a stop to observe the eagles that winter alongside the Missouri River. “It’s a peaceful time, when we don’t worry about rushing anywhere,” says Brenda. Can’t escape for a whole afternoon? Then head outdoors for a refreshing change of scene. Bundle up and walk to the mailbox to drop off Christmas cards, or take a starlit night-time stroll through your neighbourhood to view the holiday lights.
Do Something that Makes You Happy
Donna Wallace of Shawano, Wisconsin, found that adding, rather than deleting, something from her to-do list made her Christmas feel less hectic. One year, she joined her church choir for the express purpose of singing with others in praise and celebration of the season. “It grounds you to acknowledge the spiritual side,” says Donna.
Request Free Gift Wrapping
Stores don’t always publicize this service, so be sure to ask. Also seek out charity gift-wrapping services. Non-profit organizations often set up booths at malls or craft shows and will wrap presents for a small fee. Take advantage of their services and you’ll save yourself one task while contributing to a worthy cause.
Make a Game Plan for the Mall
Log on to your local mall’s Web site and download a map and directory of stores. Before you go, plot your path and make a list of potential presents. While at the mall, avoid excessive browsing since it can quickly eat up your available time, not to mention money. Lastly, always bring along advertising circulars in case there’s a question about an item’s availability or price.
The day of your visit, bring only the essentials—since you’ll be hauling shopping bags by day’s end, consider carrying your wallet and ads in a zippered waist pack or a small, light handbag. Tuck receipts in one place, perhaps a compartment in your handbag or a brightly coloured envelope.
So those are our favourite stress-reducing tips, do you have any to share with us?