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How to stay stress-free during the holidays

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Exhausted woman in a Santa hat sitting with a long shopping list of gifts, surrounded by bags and gift boxes, vector illustration, EPS 8

Image: Aleutie / Shutterstock

Let’s figure out how to stay stress-free during the holidays. The American Psychological Association reports that holiday stress affects women more than men. The added work of preparing holiday meals, shopping for gifts, decorating the home and coming up with extra money for holiday spending, apparently takes its toll, and not the cookie kind of toll. 61% of women polled reported feeling stressed out during what is supposed to be the happiest time of the year.

Stress can cause its own bevy of problems, including reduced cognitive function, lowered immune system, headache, fatigue, depression and more. So what’s a girl to do with so much to do during the holidays? Here’s what you can do to stay stress-free during the holidays.

  1. Delegate

Who ever said you have to do everything by yourself? There are lots of tasks to do during the holidays that are perfect for delegating. But first you have to reconcile yourself with the fact that everything is going to work out, even if it doesn’t work out the way you wanted. Relieving stress through delegating won’t work if you’re stressed out that the other person won’t do their assigned task “correctly.” So loosen the reins and be prepared for imperfect results. Some tasks that you can delegate to another adult in the family without the holidays being utterly ruined for the rest of eternity include:

  • Buying wrapping paper, ribbon and tape
  • Wrapping gifts
  • Shopping for ingredients for holiday meals
  • Cleaning the interior of the car for transporting friends and family
  • Doing extra loads of laundry
  • Bringing decorations down from the attic
  • Clipping coupons on favorite food brands
  • Gassing up the car/grill/snow blower
  • Selecting holiday music
  1. Indulge a Little

As a woman, you already know that you often put your needs last. With so much holiday hustle and bustle, it’s even less likely that you’re going to make time to relax and distress. After all, who has time for a scented bubble bath when the furniture hasn’t yet been polished for your white-glove wearing Aunt Myrtle who’s arriving in two days?

Now is the time to indulge yourself just a little. These shouldn’t become lifelong habits, but if they relieve the stress a little during the holidays, there’s no harm in these indulgent treats.

  • Sip on some spiked eggnog with your honey after the kids have gone to bed.
  • For every time you buy gifts for your family, get yourself a tiny single piece of chocolate at the register counter.
  • Rent a movie that only you will love and lock yourself in the bedroom while you watch it on your tablet/laptop/bedroom TV. Don’t answer the door if anyone knocks (especially kids who need help finding something).
  • After work, order a pizza delivery for the family and go to a spa for a facial instead of rushing home to cook dinner.

I’m sure you’ll be able to think of more and better ways to indulge yourself than I can. After all, you’re you! Creative genius and master of your domain!

  1. Stop

That’s right, just stop. Sometimes preparing for the holidays can be like painting a picture. As the artist, you never can tell when it’s finished. Or maybe it’s never finished. If you are saying things to yourself like, “just one more side dish – three isn’t enough,” or “I think the tree needs more tinsel,” or “does Jimmy have enough presents to open?” then it’s time to—stop. Pencils down. Or rather, whisks down. At some point, enough is enough and it’s time to sit down and watch the holiday come to you.

Remember, everything is going to be all right. It really will. Aunt Myrtle will probably bring her green bean casserole like she always does. Jimmy won’t even notice that he “only” got ten gifts. And the tinsel? Your cat will have it all pulled off the tree by Christmas anyway. Live a little. Have another glass of eggnog.

 

Kate Supino is a freelance writer who enjoys sharing her research and experience with readers everywhere. She lives in sunny South Florida.