De-Stress the Holidays

In theory, it is the “hap-happiest” season of all. In reality, many of us look forward to December with a mix of anticipation and dread.

We want to make the most of the season and create special memories, but there’s so much competing for our attention that the “magic” can get lost in the shuffle.

There’s no hierarchy of holiday traditions, only those that make your life — and your family’s — more meaningful and those that create stress. This year, why not reassess? Unthinkable to forgo stringing lights on the eaves? Then, maybe candy making is something you can live without. Gift giving may be non-negotiable, but maybe it’s OK to leave your second cousin’s nephew off this year’s list. Hesitant to make big changes? Then delete one thing for just one year. You can always add it back, but you might find that you don’t miss it at all.

Here are a few ways you might find a little more sanity for yourself this season:

Do you love reconnecting with friends by sending that annual family photo or detailed end-of-year letter? Do you enjoy a weekend crafting homemade cards? If not, consider sending your holiday greetings through social media or making a phone call to your college roommate.

Do you get a charge out of selecting just the right gift for everyone on your list? Is your approach to Black Friday BRING IT ON? Or do we find you whimpering in the Target aisle on Dec. 23rd? If you need to cut back on gift giving for mental health or financial reasons, you don’t have to go cold turkey. Consider exchanging names or just buying for the kids in your family.

Even the most active social butterflies can feel over-obligated this time of year. One of the biggest hurdles to declining invitations is the lack of a “good” excuse. Next time, use the simple, “Thank you for the invitation; I’m sorry I won’t be able to make it this time.”

Maybe making Grandma’s Chex Mix recipe is the real reason for the season. Perhaps “neighborly love” equals delivering baked goods. But if all you can visualize is the mountain of pots and pans you’ll have to wash, bypass the baking aisle and head for the bakery. The professionals have you covered.

For those blessed with the Martha Stewart gene, press on. We can only marvel! For everyone else — relax. Try a smaller tree, fewer decorations, more time to enjoy the season, however perfectly imperfect your version may be.

Does your holiday itinerary include using your vacation time to drive or fly long distances or to multiple gatherings? What would it look like if it didn’t? Maybe a week at home wouldn’t be so bad.