As snow falls and lights twinkle, we can all hear Andy Williams singing loudly in our ears that the holiday season is "the MOST WONDERFUL time of the year."
Unfortunately, high expectations - both internal and external - can make the last two months of the year the most stressful time of the year as well, especially for women. Over 40% of American report feeling increased stress about time, money, and relationships during the holiday season.
Avoiding Financial Stress
- Think about what you TRULY value. Setting boundaries is one of the keys to a peaceful holidays and no where is that more important than with regards to spending. What traditions are worth spending money on? What gifts do you give merely out of obligation? Can you trade out the fancy holiday party for a potluck with close friends and be just as happy?
- Give experiences not gifts. Gift-giving is a huge source of holiday spending - and holiday stress! So, this year avoid giving more stuff and consider experiences. Is there a child on your list you could take to the movies? What about an older relative you could treat to a home-cooked meal? The Simple Dollar has several other great ideas.
- Do It Yourself. With a few exceptions, making a meal, decoration, or gift yourself is usually cheaper than buying it at the store. Now, trying to make EVERYTHING yourself is a recipe for disaster. However, making a cake instead of picking one up at the grocery store or putting together homemade hostess gifts instead of buying gift cards will add up to real holiday savings over the course of the season.
Avoiding Relationship Stress
- Setting personal boundaries. Much like financial limits, we have to understand our relationship boundaries to avoid holiday stress. We cannot be responsible for other people's happiness during this time of year. All we can do is understand what situations trigger our own stress and do our best to avoid or defuse them. Self-care goes a long way in this area. Can you take a walk before you react in anger? How about volunteering for dish duty to stay out of fray?
- Give empathy this holiday season. Many times those who are difficult to be around during the holiday season are experiencing their own personal troubles. Maybe an angry relative is lonely themselves? Or a competitive friend is feeling insecure? Remember their reactions are usually about them not you.
- Embrace the chaos. Instead of trying to control everyone or avoid any unexpected changes, embracing a certain amount of the chaos that comes with this time of year can make you happier in the end. Keep an eye on your boundaries but also try think about when your expectations are getting the best of you. Are your kids ruining your perfect Christmas cookies or are you missing the chance for some messy - but happy - new holiday memories?
If you're interested in more ways to avoid holiday stress and create a peaceful holiday season, then check out 21 Days to a Peaceful Holiday consists of 21 days of emails beginning December 1st and running through Winter Solstice on December 21, as well as membership in our 21 Days to a Peaceful Holiday Facebook group.
This course is basically like an online holiday season life coach and support group.
Imagine starting your day with a dear friend who just wants the happiest holiday season for you. Or how would you like to share your morning coffee with a friend who gently asks "Are you taking good care of yourself?" or has conveniently scoured the Internet for quick and easy Advent ideas to make you feel like a Christmas queen with minimal effort?
Nurtured Mama and I have written gentle reminders and inspirational ideas on how to decide what holiday memories are important to YOU, how to capture those Christmas moments that come and go so quickly, how to keep the consumption and indulging to a healthy minimal, how to simplify gift giving, and much, much more!
We tackle everything from the emotional, like how to deal with difficult people during an already stressful time and how to embrace the romance of the season, to the practical, like simple gift DIYs and easy traditions to start tomorrow.
Nothing is required. You can give as little or as much energy to our suggestions as you want. What WE want is to make this holiday season brighter, easier, and yes more peaceful!