Given the number of emails filling my inbox and TV segments about dealing with holiday stress I have to wonder, "Are holidays becoming holi-crazy?"
Are we so stressed over wrapping up the year in a nice package and getting it all done in time that we don't have time to really enjoy the season? Many of us face shopping for gifts, wrapping up year end finances, planning holiday travel, scheduling the kids' activities when they are out of school and juggling every day tasks.
And then there's that year-end "taking stock" of your life and making New Year's resolutions to: lose weight, ditch the dud, meet someone new, find a new job, start a new business, start saving, stop spending, get a life coach, get a life...
First, you are not alone if you feel this way. Second, most of this is self-inflicted. Third, by January 2 it's all over until the end of 2016.
Here are five tips to dial down the stress-o-meter.
1. Everyone wants to "see you before the end of the year." I never understood this because I'm around 365 days and like to celebrate any day. Tip: Suggest a get together in the new year when it is less hectic.
2. Nosy family members: Visiting relatives should not be a guilt trip. Tip: You don't owe anyone an explanation on how you are living your life and you are not obligated to answer probing questions. Just smile and tell the nosy relative, "I'd rather hear how you are doing and what you are up to."
3. Taking stock: Stop taking yourself so seriously and comparing your life to others. Tip: Write down three amazing things about yourself and what you are doing and be prepared to tell them to everyone you see who asks "How are you?"
4. Breaking news should not break your spirit: Heightened security alerts, gun violence and terrorism have us all on edge. But we have to keep doing and enjoying everyday things from going to the movies and shopping at malls to traveling. Tip: If the news starts stressing you out, go somewhere quiet to unplug and step away from the noise. I'm a big fan of visiting a museum, watching a dance performance or hiking in the preserve near where I live.
5. Financial strain. Holidays find us overspending and over extending. Dinners out with friends, buying gifts and holiday travel to visit family all add up. What do you do if your friends have more money than you to spend and want you to join them? You can bite the bullet. You can decline the invitation. Or you can suggest another activity. Tip: Choose what makes sense for you, your budget and your tolerance level. You don't have to accept every invitation or keep up with anyone. You just need keep in touch with your inner calm.
Focus on more joy and less juggling; worry less about buying gifts and focus more on spending time with family and friends. Holidays should be about celebration, not obligation.