As we approach the holiday season, it is easy to get bogged down with the stress of shopping, attending holiday parties, and meeting the expectations of family and friends.  We can easily become hurried, frazzled and down right agitated by what we perceive as the pressure of the holidays.  If we are not careful, the holidays turn into a holidaze!  However, with a few guiding principles, you can lower your holiday stress this season.

1) Set realistic expectations for yourself.  Perfectionism is especially rampant during the holidays as many us try to create the “ideal” for every aspect of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.  However, if you start off with healthy expectations, you can really reduce your stress.   Pick three things this season that are really important to you and focus on making only those things excellent, not perfect.   Let go of the rest!

2) Let yourself say no!   Many of us are guilty of saying yes to everything and everyone because we want to keep everyone happy.  The trouble is when you say yes to everything you end up exhausted and burnt out.  Instead of everyone being happy, you and those around are disappointed because it is impossible to keep everyone happy!  This holiday season, practice saying no out of love for yourself and others.  Ask yourself these questions to help you know what to say no to:  1) Am I saying yes out of guilt to make another person happy?  If the answer is yes, change it to no!  2) Is this event/thing a priority for me or a close loved one? If it is not a priority, say no! 3) Will saying yes deplete or increase my energy and ability to love God, myself and others well?  If it depletes your energy say no!

3) Give yourself a gift!  This is not necessarily a tangible gift; you will like get plenty of those that you will return or use once from other people! This season, consider giving yourself the gift of self-care.   Get a massage, take a nap, spend extra time in prayer or reading scripture, or simply stop and just focus on your breath for five minutes a day.  The idea is to slow down and give yourself time step out of the holidaze and relax.  You may be tempted to think this is selfish but self-care helps replenish us so we can care for others well.

Following these three principles can help avoid the stress of the holidaze! Stay tuned for our next blog:  Practicing Presence in the Season of Presents to help not only avoid stress, but create holiday peace and joy!