Reduce Holiday Stress and Increase Holiday Happiness 

“And he puzzled three hours, ’til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! ‘Maybe Christmas’, he thought ‘doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!’ “

The holidays are a busy time for everyone, but this year can be different. It’s doesn’t have to be the dreadful dead run to get everything done. Take just a few minutes to reflect on holiday experiences and traditions that are meaningful. Here’s how you can create a new holiday plan for more happiness and less stress.

Ask yourself:

What holiday memories do you want for yourself and for your children/family? What kind of holiday celebration and memories you really want to create? What was a special Christmas memory for you growing up and what about it made it special?

Evaluate your current reality

Make a mental list or even write down every holiday custom or tradition that you currently do. (family traditions, friend traditions, office traditions, other groups you belong to). Does your list of current traditions and tasks support your ideal holiday celebration?

What kind of expectations do you have of yourself during the holidays? What expectations does your family have? Are they realistic?

Look at the holiday traditions that you currently do: Note or circle which ones give you enthusiasm and joy. Note or put an ‘X’ next to the ones that you dread or hate doing.

Review the items (especially the ones you hate doing) and apply the three B’s

Bag it! Get rid of this task, if you don’t love doing it and your family doesn’t care, then stop doing it. It’s better to focus on fewer more meaningful traditions than ones that just take energy and time for little return.

Better it! How can you make it better, easier, less stressful? What can you purchase or change to reduce the specific stress. If you hate mall traffic, shop online! If you hate cooking a dish, buy it or have someone bring it. If you hate Christmas cards, send a New Years Card. Be creative and don’t be afraid to make it better and easier.

Barter it! If your friends love to bake and you love to wrap presents, then do those for each other. You’ll be doing more of what you love and helping a friend too…what could be better than that?

If you do end up changing or evolving a tried and true holiday tradition, make sure you communicate ahead of time the why’s to family so they will understand and be supportive. If you get push back, ask your family ‘why?’ to uncover the real reasons so you can better find a solution. It’s important to have those meaningful conversations to honor important family relationships. This is an important step. Even if you don’t change your plan this year, ask for feedback from family when they are together so can adjust and plan for next year.

Besides, if you are overly stressed, what will the kids and relatives remember?

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