Lower your stress level around the holidays

thinkstockphotos-618346804Lower your stress level around the holidays

No one needs to be reminded that the holidays can be stressful. Here are some suggestions that might help you help minimize the stress and really enjoy the holidays.

Discover the beauty of gift cards

If you are still gift shopping in December, this might help: Gift cards. Sure, they may lack some of the intimacy, but it can still be personal. Instead of giving your sister that cool new kitchen gadget, you can give her a gift card to the store that sells them. That way, she will have the option of getting something she really wants. Gift cards are especially good for clothing stores – if you want to get the size or color right. They are perfect for the person who has everything. There are cards for hardware stores, book stores, coffee shops – really any kind of store. Remember to wrap the card to make it more festive!

Request free gift wrapping

Let’s say you aren’t the gift card type, believing that the actual best-seller is a nicer gift than a book store gift card. At least ask the store to gift-wrap it for you. That goes for other types of gifts. Although stores don’t always publicize it, you’d be amazed at how many have this service. And if they don’t, look around the mall or shopping center for charity gift-wrapping services. Nonprofit organizations often set up booths and will wrap presents for a small fee. It’s a big time saver, and for a good cause!

Don’t hesitate to ask for help

Maybe this year it’s your turn to host, and you’re freaking out because it’s just the two of you, not counting those two teen-aged kids you share your house with. But don’t forget about all your guests. As soon as they start arriving, put them to work. Put someone in charge of greeting guests at the door. Ask another guest to take coats into the spare bedroom. Another guest can be in charge of hors d’oeuvres and beverages. Ask another to put on some festive music. Asking your guests to pitch in will make it more fun for them, and more manageable for you. A win-win.

Focus on what’s important

This is the sime of year when many people celebrate joy and peace. Receiving holiday cards is part of the joy, but if sending all those cards is interfering with the peace part, you may want to re-evaluate. If you have dozens of friends and family members on your holiday card list, consider sending a single e-card out to everyone. Decorate it with some happy photos of the kids, or your pet cat, and you’re done. That simple strategy has saved many holidays from becoming a stress-inducing wreck. And it’s eco-friendly!

Sneak in a quick walk

Baby, it’s cold outside. But that’s no reason not to spend a few minutes outdoors before the big show. Take a short walk, even if only for 5 minutes. The cold air and physical activity will raise your spirits and help you rein in those anxious thoughts. The endorphins will act like a tranquilizer to your brain. So take a walk. And if you can’t find the time before your guests arrive, try walking after dinner. Bring a walking partner, or several walking partners. Start a new holiday tradition, and feel the joy!