Feeling overwhelmed with the tasks you have to do for the holiday season? Does your list include: special foods to prepare, cookies to make, gifts to buy or make, gifts to wrap, cards or letters to write, friends and family to visit, and a house to clean – in addition to your regular job and responsibilities. It is easy to see why many of us become stressed and overwhelmed over the holidays. What can you do to deal with the pressure?
- Pick the traditions that mean the most to you or your family, and continue those traditions. If it is something that “you’ve always done” but don’t really enjoy doing, maybe this is the year to skip it or try a simpler alternative.
- Scale back this year. If you always send a holiday letter, maybe this year you decide to wait until the New Year or Valentine’s Day to send your letter or card. A card or letter in January or February might be a welcome addition to the holiday bills on a cold snowy day.
- Simplify your decorating. Decide what you really enjoy seeing in your home, decorate your house and store or give away the rest. This year I’ve decided not to put out my collection of snowmen and women. I’m passing some of my family decorations on to my daughters so they can enjoy them in their homes. Wouldn’t it be nice to share your family favorites?
- Simplify your holiday meals and parties. Most of the time we have excess food at holiday gatherings. Instead of fixing eight side dishes, decide that four are enough. Add a fruit or veggie tray for a healthy snacking option. If someone offers to bring an appetizer or side dish, tell them yes and don’t feel guilty about it.
- Have a Cookie Exchange with friends. If you usually make 10 kinds of cookies, have a gathering with friends and make one or two kinds of cookies and have a cookie exchange. The bonus: less work for everyone and you will receive a nice variety of cookies.
- Make Lists and Get Organized. If you are purchasing gifts, keep a list so you will have it on hand when you need it. Stick to a budget so that you don’t add to your financial stress.
- Be Realistic. Know that your expectations for the perfect holiday may not happen. Family issues will still be there and may even increase over the holiday season. Understand that it is ok to limit the time you spend with family and friends. If you need some “me” time, take a walk, relax and spend time alone.
- Keep up those Healthy Habits. Even though we are busy with the holiday season, remember to take time to exercise and to eat healthy meals. Don’t skimp on meals or eliminate meals to save calories. You will end up super hungry and may tend to over consume high calorie foods.
- Regular Rest helps you reduce Your Stress Levels. Try to continue your healthy habit of getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Plan your activities so that you aren’t up late at night with last-minute chores.
Try one or more of these tips to help make your holiday season healthy, happy and less stressful.
Writer: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, Ohio State University Extension, email@example.com
Reviewer: Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D. L.D., SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, West Region, Ohio State University Extension, firstname.lastname@example.org