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The Secret to Overcoming Holiday Stress

With all the hosting, traveling, gift-buying, budgeting, and year-end work deadlines, the holiday season can bring more stress than joy. So before over-committing, over-spending, and overworking yourself into a holiday meltdown, take a moment to step back and create a simple holiday plan based on what matters most. To get started, ask yourself these six questions:

1. What is my ultimate vision for this holiday season?
Everyone celebrates the holidays differently, and there is no right or wrong way to do so. Think about how you want your holiday season to be. What will bring the most joy, and what can you do to make that happen? Getting clear about what’s most important is the first step in not stressing about the small things.

2. What obligations can I let go of?
Whether it’s the pressure to give the perfect gift or squeeze in family bonding time with the extended family, think about all the obligations, expectations, and pressure you may be putting on yourself or others. Ask yourself, “Am I doing this out of guilt” or “Is this tradition really important?” Try to let go of the less meaningful things so you can feel more fulfilled and less frazzled.

3. How can I make rest a priority?
Over-committing is a major cause of holiday stress. Before getting swept up in the holiday spirit and agreeing to an ambitious social calendar, think about menu planning, gift giving, and workload. What can be outsourced, postponed, scaled back, or changed? How can you start the New Year more refreshed and rejuvenated?

4. What is my “real” budget?
Get real about how much gift-buying, hosting, and travel will cost. Then make a holiday spending plan and try to stick to it. Creative homemade gifts, affordable meal planning, and gift exchanges can help ease the overspending trap without affecting the real joy of the season.

5. How can I make technology work for me?
Save time, money, and hassle by using technology for online shopping, making travel arrangements, and staying organized. Consider apps for making holiday cards.

6. What am I most grateful for?
If it’s your health and your family’s well-being, then remember to get rest, eat well, and stress less. If it’s quality time with your loved ones, then be present and available to enjoy that time. Gratitude is a great antidote to stress, so if feelings of holiday frenzy start to rush in, take a breath, be grateful for the moment, and keep things in perspective.

If you would like additional help in managing holiday stress, contact your Assistance Program for confidential support.

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