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stress elf

For all the holiday cheer this time of year, I find that for many of my clients the holidays are particularly stressful.  It’s a combination of overly busy schedules, family obligations, financial strain from gift-giving requirements, and often a reaction to too much food, too much joviality, and the endless stream of holiday requests and marketing.

Over the years, a few time-worn strategies to dealing with it all have emerged.

  1. Have reasonable expectations.  The media would have us believe that everyone’s holidays are right out of a Norman Rockwell painting, when in truth, they may be more like National Lampoon’s Christmas vacation.  Go with the flow instead of expecting perfection.
  2. Don’t say yes, when you want to say no.   Sounds simple, but over and over again people accept invitations out of a sense of obligation rather than a real desire.  It’s perfectly acceptable to say “Thank you so much, I’m afraid it’s not possible,” even if your alternate plans are Chinese take-out in front of The Big Bang Theory.
  3. Don’t overspend.  Another obvious strategy, and yet one often overlooked.  Set a budget for how much you’ll spend on gifts and stick too it.  Shop in advance so you’re not desparately looking for a gift at the last minute.  Make a list and use the internet to price shop.  Then call your local store before you head in to avoid disappointment with the item you’re hunting for isn’t available.
  4. Don’t leave things for the last minute.  That includes shopping, gift-wrapping, RSVPing, finding the right dress to wear for New Year’s Eve, or sending out holiday cards or letters.  (Consider a Christmas email and save both time and money!)
  5. Eat healthy despite the overabundance that surrounds you.  Just because it’s the holidays, it doesn’t mean you need to down a quart of heart-clogging eggnog (one cup won’t hurt), or Christmas cookies, or a dozen fried potato latkes.   Indulge wisely.  However, don’t even think about starting a diet this time of year.  That’s what January is for. 😉
  6. Get enough rest.  The holidays generally take us out of our routine, whether it’s because of the abundance of events, guests or travel.  This may be the time of year to indulge in naps!
  7. Give back.  During the holidays, find a way to give back to the community, whether that’s donating to a food bank, visiting some elderly people, or volunteering some time to a worthy cause.  Don’t over-commit, but do find a way to show love and gratitude.