The older I get, the crazier the Christmas season seems to be. I absolutely adore the music, the movies, the decorations (and the awesome deals) that make December magical. But the pressure of shopping, wrapping, baking, and attending or hosting holiday parties can kinda make a person nuts.
In an effort to control holiday-inducing anxiety and actually enjoy the Christmas season, here are some tips I’ve found useful.
Further reading: Feeling overwhelmed in general? Read this post.
1. Keep your expectations realistic
This may be the most important! If you’re anything like me, you tend to idealize Christmas. The movies and commercials (and other people’s Facebook posts) make it seem like everyone else has picture-perfect Christmases, with a catalog-worthy tree, beautifully wrapped gifts, and Pinterest inspired menus at every gathering.
Please realize that most (or all) of that is an illusion. Take a break from social media, focus on the blessings in your life, and be realistic. There’s no such thing as a perfect Christmas!
2. Stick to your budget
It’s so easy to get sucked into the gift-giving game and spend way more than you should. But you’re the one who has to pay the credit card bill in January. Make a budget of what you can realistically afford to spend on presents, and stick to it. A thoughtful gift, even if it’s less expensive, is far more meaningful and memorable to the recipient.
If your family or friend group always exchanges gifts for every person, consider suggesting drawing names or doing a White Elephant gift exchange. Or just get together and enjoy each other’s company. I’m not sure when it was decided that Christmas meant we have to buy a gift for everyone we know, but feel free to change the trend! Chances are, others in the group are wishing things were different, but feel bad for speaking up.
3. Learn to say no
I hate to break it to you, but you’re not actually a superhero. You can’t possibly fulfill everyone’s expectations of you, and you’ll go crazy if you try. If you want to groan (or cry) when someone asks you to do something or go somewhere, consider politely declining. If they doesn’t understand, it’s their problem, not yours. Oversheduling yourself will just make you stressed out and resentful. And no one wants to party with that person.
Just because you’ve had a tradition in the past doesn’t mean it has to continue forever. It’s important to realize when something isn’t working any more. Forcing traditions that are no longer enjoyable on ourselves and others simply isn’t fair.
4. Wrap gifts early
Has anyone else ever stayed up til 1:00 AM on Christmas Eve wrapping gifts? I totally have. Last year I discovered that I could actually wrap presents way earlier! Who knew? If you start wrapping gifts as you buy them, it releases you from a mad dash when things are most hectic.
I don’t particularly enjoy wrapping gifts, but I try to make it feel festive by playing some Christmas music or a movie. If you can set up a little wrapping station in your home, try wrapping gifts when you bring them home. You’ll really thank yourself later in the month.
5. Don’t abandon healthy habits
Keeping your daily routine as much as possible is so important during the holiday season. If you exercise regularly, don’t stop just because it’s Christmastime. If you don’t exercise, try taking a few walks during the week. It’s like a mini-vacation. The fresh air and change of perspective really soothes stress and anxiety. Even if it’s cold outside, bundle up and just try it for 10 minutes. You won’t freeze to death, and your house will seem extra cozy upon your return.
Maintaining your sleep and eating routines is also key. December can be so hectic that taking care of yourself is even more important than usual. Managing your energy should be a top priority. I’ve wound up with a bad cold or the flu on December 26th or January 1st more times than I care to admit.
There you have it, with some planning ahead, self care, and managing priorities, hopefully Christmas will be less stressful and more enjoyable! Wishing you a healthy and happy holiday season!