Reduce Your Holiday Stress

As the holiday season approaches, your stress level will probably rise. In addition to your typical schedule of work, home and kids, you’ve got more shopping to do, menus to plan, and food to prepare. The good news is, even with all the extra activities and preparations, you can still reduce your holiday stress.

Here are some proven strategies to help you decrease your stress. Some of these may even be so effective that you’ll choose to use them all year long, not just during the holidays!

  1. Acknowledge that everything doesn’t need to be perfect. The commercials and movies on television during the holidays really miss the mark when it comes to realistic portrayals of family holidays.
    • Accept that you can enjoy some beautiful holiday get-togethers regardless of whether something is spilled or you’re having trouble locating your favorite dinner napkins.
    • Furthermore, most people will hardly notice if the pies were baked a little too long or you forgot the cranberry sauce.
  2. Start holiday planning and preparations earlier. Can you imagine how much less stressed you’d feel if you had all your gift shopping and wrapping done in October?
    • Also, plan your holiday menus well in advance of using them. This way, you’ll have the menu set and the store lists made. As the holidays get closer, review your menus and shopping lists and make any minor adjustments you want.
    • Spreading holiday tasks out over longer periods of time means you’ll have less stress during the holiday season.
  3. Scale down your holiday plans. Because adults sometimes have an overly idealistic view of the holidays that springs from their childhood experiences, this strategy can be tough to do. Scaling down your plans involves letting go of your “perfect dream” for the holidays.
    • Essentially, know that you don’t have to repeat that special holiday memory you have in your mind. You don’t have to find the perfect gift, spend the most money or have a room stacked with wrapped packages to show your love to others.
    • Ascribe to the theory that, “It’s the thought that counts.” Most people will never remember the cool thing you got for them that one year. But they will have warm memories of the time you spent together as a family.
  4. Take shortcuts to save time. Figure out easier ways to do things that will provide more time for other holiday tasks and activities.
    • One good example: Rather than baking the pies, order them from a nearby restaurant that’s known for its delicious baked goods.
    • When shopping, don’t be afraid to select gift cards as holiday gifts. The fact is that many people prefer receiving a gift card as they can then choose exactly what they want. Gift cards are easy to shop for, satisfy nearly everyone and will cost you less in wrapping paper. Basically, gift cards are “no fuss and no muss.”
  5. Choose what you want to do. Ponder what the holidays truly mean to you and then express that meaning in your celebrations. Avoid getting caught up in the commercialism that has taken over the entire holiday season.
    • Some would say “it’s all about the shopping.” However, it’s worth your time to think about what ideas you hope to portray to your friends and loved ones during the holidays.
    • Let go of feeling required to plan and carry out elaborate, lavish celebrations. Maybe you’d really rather have smaller, more intimate gatherings with friends spread out over a month or two, rather than a big whoop-de-doo that makes it difficult to really connect with others.
    • The best way to teach your children that the holidays are about giving to others is to take them to visit local charities or even to serve meals at a church soup kitchen.

This year, make the decision to reduce your holiday stress. By shedding the urge to be perfect, beginning holiday planning earlier, scaling down expectations, and using shortcuts to save time, you’ll bring your tension level way down.

Think about what you really want the holidays to mean to you and your family. Then, you can let go of expectations based on the past and really enjoy your time together. And ultimately, isn’t that what the holidays are for?

Handle Your Anger at Home: 5 Ways to De-Stress and Relax

You may really love the people you live with, but they can still make you angry from time to time. To keep you and your relationships healthy, it’s important to find a way to handle your anger and lower your stress level.

So what can you do when you feel angry? Instead of focusing on ways to address any specific situation, it’s more effective to look for ways that work to handle anger at home in general.

Follow these tips to diffuse anger and invite peace and harmony into your home instead:

1. Exercise. One way to work off stress and anxiety in your home situation is to get moving. You can join a gym, work out in your bedroom or garage, or just take a walk. It’s a great way to get your endorphins going and feel happier.

• With exercise, you can make yourself feel better even if the circumstances that caused the anger don’t change.

• You can also try exercising together with your family. One of the benefits of exercising together is that you’ll all feel calmer afterward. When you’re all de-stressed together, you can help one another through issues that might have otherwise made you angry.

2. Listen to music. Try doing something mentally soothing to keep stress at bay. Music is one of the best ways to relax and de-stress, and it’s popular with people of all ages, income levels, and other factors. Pick the music you like; it’s usually more effective, though, when you choose something quiet. Listen to music that makes you feel rested and calm.

• Try several different musical styles – you’ll know when you’re listening to something that works for you. And once you’ve located it, you can listen whenever you need to for a calming break.

3. Read. Reading is also a good way to de-stress. Choose a lighthearted book that’s comical, romantic, or otherwise makes you feel good. You can also read a religious or spiritual book if you’re so inclined. Any book that gives a good, positive message about the world or the people in it can help you feel better and be more relaxed.

4. Be thankful. When you’re feeling stressed, try counting your blessings. Write them down, if it helps you. Sure, there might be some aggravating things going on in your home – but there are also many things you can be thankful about. Think about what’s good in your life, rather than what you don’t like.

• When you focus on gratitude, you’ll also see more of the good in your life.

• When you think negatively, it’s easier to feel angry and stressed. These emotions can make it harder to relate to the people in your family. Positive thinking, on the other hand, helps diffuse your anger and brings you more good things to feel good about!

5. Breathe. When you feel angry, take a moment to take a few slow, deep breaths. This action has multiple benefits. When you breathe deeply, it sends extra oxygen to your brain for clarity of thought and relaxes your muscles. It also gives you a moment to take a mental step back and look at the bigger picture.

• When you give yourself time to think first, you’re much less likely to lash out, either verbally or physically. You can then approach the issue feeling calmer.

The people who love you can make it difficult for you sometimes, even if they don’t mean to. If you use the tools suggested here to help you stay positive, you can get a handle on your anger and enjoy greater happiness in your home.

3 Simple Actions That Lower Your Stress Level

If the hustle, bustle, and challenges of everyday life are making your stress levels inch up each day, you must find a way to break free! Holding onto the stresses of yesterday will simply add to the tension of today and tomorrow. Soon the amount of pressure you carry around inside you from this stress may become unbearable.

You work hard to provide a good life for your family, but stress can prevent you from enjoying that life. Don’t allow stress and worries to rob you of the happiness you deserve!

Follow these easy strategies to help you banish daily worries and stress:

1. Ask for help. If you’re constantly running on empty, your mind, body, and soul will suffer the repercussions of your tenacity. There’s no shame in asking for a helping hand. Sometimes, you’ll be able lean on a spouse, coworker, or friend, but other times you may have to hire help.

  • If your mounting responsibilities are barely allowing you the necessary time to eat and sleep, you may have too much on your plate. Streamline your responsibilities by creating a time-effective plan for crossing the items off of your to-do list in less time.
  • Most people are delighted to be needed and will be more than willing to help you. If housework is the culprit of your stress, divide the tasks equally amongst the family members in your household.

2. Set aside time for yourself. What do you enjoy doing? Knitting, relaxing in a bubble bath, drawing, lounging in bed watching reruns of the Golden Girls? Indulge yourself in your favorite lazy activity a few times each week.

  • Carve out a few hours each weekend to indulge in your favorite lazy activity. Choose at least one weeknight to relax after work. Sitting in a candlelit bubble bath while listening to your favorite CD and reading a magazine is an effective treatment for washing the day’s stresses away.
  • Refrain from feeling selfish for taking time for yourself. You may be a busy professional, a spouse, a parent and have a home to maintain all at the same time; however, taking two hours now to de-stress will save you from going into overdrive and possibly stressing out your loved ones later.

3. Socialize! Making time for socializing with friends and family is a vital aspect of managing your stress levels. Friends and family make you laugh and provides you with a shoulder to lean on. This, in itself, will deplete your stress levels exponentially.

  • If possible, designate one day per week (like Sundays) to spend time with extended family and friends. You could host a neighborhood barbeque in your backyard, host a Sport Sunday gathering, or simply have coffee with your closest pals.
  • Living far away from friends and family can truly dampen your ability to socialize. You can meet friends at church, neighborhood gatherings, at the park with your kids, or on the community meeting site, MeetUp.com to find a group of likeminded folks.
  • When hosting events in your home, avoid fretting about the details. This will counteract your efforts to de-stress! Have a simple plan, such as using paper plates, napkins and plastic utensils for easy cleanup. Perhaps you can order pizza rather than cooking.

Stress seems like a normal part of life, but it doesn’t have to be that way if you’re willing to put your sanity first. Most of the time there’s a simple fix to the challenges that are causing you stress. Simply readjust the way you perceive the issues and how you address them. Both beauty and stress are in the eye of the beholder!