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By Lia Blanchard

We’re past Thanksgiving now, so there is no getting away from it; the December holidays are upon us. With the turn of the calendar this weekend, even the most procrastinating Scrooges have nowhere to hide.

Holiday

It isn’t just shopping. Frankly, I don’t enjoy shopping. By Thanksgiving, I have usually pretty much completed any holiday shopping that I need to do (mostly online), excepting food purchases. Yet I am still overwhelmed by a to-do list for the month that probably looks very much like any mom’s:

  • Indoor decorating
  • Outdoor decorating
  • Wrapping gifts
  • Shipping/delivering gifts
  • Holiday communications (e.g. card, email, postcard, newsletter)
  • Cooking
  • Outings: business and family
  • Last minute gift shopping
  • Preparing for houseguests

Real life goes on, too

All while maintaining the everyday schedule of working, helping with kids’ homework, driving kids to activities, keeping the household clean and fed, and more. It’s no wonder that stress levels climb so high, even among the most organized and tranquil of us. (Not that I know anyone who is both organized and tranquil – do you?)

To top it all off, real life doesn’t go on vacation during the winter holidays. Just in the last week, my brother’s family welcomed new twin babies, a close friend was robbed, and another lost his father. These life events are full of emotion, but somehow when they happen “during the holidays” it’s a little – sometimes, a lot – more difficult to deal with, simply by virtue of the date on the calendar.

Relief

We all have our own ways of relieving our stress, but because holiday-time presents its own brand of stress, a reminder of various methods is in order. Perhaps trying something new will be just the ticket to make it to 2013 with a smile!

  • Think ahead. Think about previous years, and what stressed you most. Know your cherished priorities (the family trip to the city tree lighting) and your must-dos (because gifts won’t wrap themselves), and how to accomplish them efficiently. Just as important, know what you will NOT do this year – culling unimportant stuff ahead of time makes it easier to say “no” to spur-of-the-moment invitations and activities that don’t meet your priority threshold. From budget to time management, a plan provides structure and backbone.
  •  Take a break when feeling overwhelmed. Just mentally get away for 15 minutes. Take a walk, pet the dog, do your nails, take a catnap, sit by a window with a cup of tea. You’ll return feeling more capable of getting a grip on things.

What are you doing differently this year to make things a little less stressful?