How to keep stress from replacing joy during the holidays

There’s no doubt that the holidays are a busy time. With so many tasks to accomplish during the season, life can get hectic. That can bring pressure to both you and your family, which can put a damper on the fun and happiness you’re supposed to enjoy this time of year. If you have experienced negative feelings around the holidays, you may not look forward to them, but there are ways to get back the joy you once felt. Trying out the tips below can help you keep stress at bay this holiday season.

Set limits. Before the holiday season is in full swing, set aside some time to figure out what you can and cannot do this year. Understanding how much is too much in terms of effort and finances will serve as your guiding light as things begin to get busier.

Create a schedule. Being able to see on paper when and where all your get-togethers are happening can really help you look forward to and prepare for the season. It can also inform what your limits are; for example, going to four parties in one day might be out of the question. Recognizing these potential conflicts ahead of time can help prevent anxiety over them.

Prioritize tasks. Each party comes with its own set of preparatory tasks. This can range from bringing dessert to getting presents. Understand which tasks are absolutely necessary, and make sure those are accomplished first. Doing this will help you stay ahead of the game, which leaves you more time enjoying the holidays instead of fretting over them.

Be realistic. To embrace all that the holidays have to offer, you must accept a few things. First, let go of the idea of a “perfect” holiday season. Despite your best efforts, things do not always go according to plan. Any number of things might not pan out: the turkey might be too dry or your home decor might not be what you had envisioned. Keep in mind that the most important thing is spending time with people you care about, and everything else is icing on the cake.

Take breaks. Don’t overwork yourself. Perhaps you’ve done this in the past, but you know that it does not serve to add joy to your life. So, make sure you do your best this year to take time for yourself. It will help you to recharge and allow you to enjoy the company of others more. One of the keys to doing this is to give yourself permission to say “no.” You can turn down an invitation or task politely and save yourself from being overworked. Setting your limits, creating a schedule, and prioritizing tasks will help you to do this.

Ask for help. It’s hard to make a party happen all on your own. Don’t be afraid to ask your family and friends to pitch in. As the saying goes “many hands make light work,” and the folks you hold near and dear will likely be more than happy to help you out. If they decline, understand that this isn’t anything against you, but that they are likely very busy as well.

Tips for Reducing Stress and Increasing Joy During the Holidays [Huffington Post]

12 Tips to Keep Joy in the Holidays [Psych Central]

Tips for Holidays and Parenting: Letting Joy Win Over Stress [Psychology Today]