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Don’t Let Stress Spoil Your Christmas
The holidays are a time that most people look forward to every year. But Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other holiday involving travel and family gatherings can easily turn into a stressful ordeal before you know it. The holidays are supposed to be FUN, not stressful. Don’t let easily preventable problems ruin it for you and your family. Follow the simple tips outlined in this handy guide to ensure that this year—and every year—you remember the holidays for the right reasons.
1. Plan ahead
As is the case with physical illness, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Don’t just run around in a frenzy trying to take care of errands before the holidays. Make a clear list of what you need to do, and when you need to do it. Break up larger tasks, like cooking a big meal for the relatives, into smaller pieces. This might seem like obvious and nonspecific advice, but it really does help, and few people bother to do it. Don’t run around like chicken with its head cut off trying to take care of last-minute shopping. With a plan in hand, you’ll be at your holiday destination sipping some eggnog and relaxing, because you took care of everything a month ago.
2. Give Yourself Enough Time
This ties into the advice above, and applies to holiday travel plans, dinner preparations, and gift purchases. Don’t put things off until the last second. Prepare ahead of time and make sure you have everything so you’re not frazzled when the big day comes. When it comes to travel, everyone’s schedules and destinations are different, but as a general rule, leaving a few hours earlier or leaving a few days earlier can make a big difference.
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3. Discuss the plan with your immediate family
Make sure everyone is on the same page, so everyone knows where they’re going and when. As far as food, figure out who is bringing what to dinner. If guests can contribute food, this can help take some of the burden off the host.
4. Be Proactive in Handling Potential Drama
If there are any relatives with whom you have had disagreements or tension with, talk with them before you see each other at the holiday gathering. There is nothing worse than unresolved drama and resentment boiling to the surface over a holiday meal. Do yourself and your family a favor and spare them this spectacle. Meet with them beforehand and talk it out in a respectful manner so that you can all have a peaceful day together. No one’s saying you have to become best friends right away; just agree to put the drama behind you as best you can and bury the hatchet, at least for that day.
If there’s someone you truly cannot tolerate being around, then perhaps the only option is to spend the holidays separately. There’s no point torturing yourself (or them), but again, this applies to extreme cases only.
5. Share the Burden
Don’t try to do everything yourself, or you may end up feeling resentful that you put so much thought and energy into preparing for the holidays while no one else helped. Ask for help. Assign certain tasks to kids or other relatives. Oftentimes they’ll be very happy to be a part of it all. This way, it’s not really a burden at all.
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6. Be mindful of alcohol consumption
If you have trouble with alcohol, or you have people in your family that get unpleasant when they drink, take this into consideration when preparing for the big day. This also ties into talking out problems with a troublesome relative beforehand. Alcohol plus suppressed emotions often leads to problems.
Of course, sometimes the problem with alcohol is not having enough to go around. Make sure you are well stocked and prepared for a long meal with the family to ensure there is enough for everybody. A pleasant buzz contributes to great holiday memories.
7. Go for a walk
This is especially great if there are kids in the picture. Taking the kids out for a walk in the woods or through the neighborhood before dinner is great way to expend some of that surplus energy they are sure to have in the post-gift-opening euphoria.
8. Take some time for yourself
In the midst of all the hustle and bustle of preparing for the holidays, taking a few minutes just for yourself can go a long way. Find some time to meditate, go for walk, or do whatever else relaxes you.