How to Avoid Stress This Holiday Season

The holidays are supposed to be the happiest time of the year. But for many, feeling like they have lack of time and/or money, can wipe that holiday cheer right off their face. Although we all do our best to keep up, the holiday season can leave even the happiest of people feeling stressed and overwhelmed. What can we do to keep the joy plentiful and the stress minimal during the next few weeks?

Recently, I sat down with Erica Castner, host of podcast series Proclamation of Persistence: The Busy Professional's Guide to Triumph & Success and founder of Queen of Results Business Coaching & Consulting. We discussed ways that we can all better manage our commitments and stress during the holiday season.

Here are some of the top stressors of the season and ways to handle them with grace.

Delegating During Big Events
Odds are likely, you'll wind up at least hosting one event, if not several, during the course of the holiday season. It often happens, that you take on more than you bargained for and are left feeling frazzled during the event you've worked so hard to prepare. Sure, we'd all love to have a party catered and hire a crew to clean up, but for most, that's out of already stretched budgets.

Erica advises,"Create a chore sign-up sheet for close family and friends. Let them choose the task they are going to be responsible for. Include tasks like pre-party set-up, food prep, washing dishes, packing up and storing left-overs, trash pick-up and post-party clean-up." Also, ease up on the over-complicated projects (put down the Pinterest). Your guests would rather spend time with you than admire your perfect turkey-shaped cheese balls.

Managing Your Party Schedule
Although many people feel grateful to have a full social and professional schedule, it can get a bit overwhelming when parties and commitments overlap. Many busy people are being asked to attend a number of events, often having additional needs to bring a dish, or help run the event. Sometimes it's more than we can manage. Erica says, "Don't say "yes" as soon as each invitation comes in. Instead, take a few moments on the weekend to evaluate the invitations you have received. Consider your work, family, spiritual, and self-care commitments FIRST and then choose the parties that fit within your schedule."

Remember, It's okay to politely decline without too many details; most people are understanding as they are equally stressed. Just try to be sure to do so before the RSVP date, so you don't inadvertently add to another's stress.

Trying to Stretch a Dollar
The holidays are notorious for leaving us feeling like we don't have enough money. With so many gifts to buy, and events to participate in, our wallets are a lot more worn in by the end of December. With retailers looking for more ways to entice you, there are plenty of deals to be had. Pay attention to online prices for certain items, and definitely check several places before making your purchase. Now is the time to get back on that Pinterest we told you to put down. Look for ways you can make inexpensive and creative items for family members and service professionals. Many times, these handmade and creative gifts become the most cherished.

Lastly, look for ways to reduce the gifting. This year, Erica and her family have chosen to have The Castner Family Gift Exchange by drawing the name of just one family member and purchasing a gift with a preset amount. Often family members are happy to have less "stuff," or may rather one more significant gift versus several smaller ones. Another option is volunteering or performing acts of kindness as a family, in lieu of gifts.

Managing Your Time
As I mentioned earlier, most people feel they have a lack of money or a lack of time, and by and large, people feel they have a lack of both. Although the expression "You have as many hours a day as Beyonce," is meant to be motivating... it's mostly deflating. You see, Beyonce has a staff, and if you're like most of us, that's not reality. So what can we do to make the most of the 24 hours we are allotted each day during the holiday season?

Erica says, "It's all about the impact you are creating, not holiday perfection. Plan ahead but keep it simple. Get an idea what you need to do each week (and then each day) to stay on track. Make a list of the supplies you need, including gifts and groceries. Plan trips to the store during non-peak hours. Also, do not be afraid to ask for help."

Staying Centered and Calm
More than anything else, it's important during the holiday season to create a sense of internal peace. It's often that we lose ourselves in the whirl of the season, and wind up feeling run down and unhappy. Finding personal balance can be one of the easiest ways to breeze through the many stressors that lurk during the holidays.

Erica recommends getting up a couple minutes early to spend time collecting your thoughts and planning your day. She said,"A cluttered mind leads to a chaotic life. Start your day journaling for twenty minutes. This allows you to set your intentions for the day, count your blessings, create your game plan for the day, and get perspective on your emotions."

Take time to breathe and remember it's not about the perfect pie, or the biggest presents, it's about love for one another...and it's the most wonderful season of all.