Keeping the holidays stress free

Published 2:27 pm Tuesday, December 14, 2021

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Healthcare Umbrella

Holiday decorations, baking cookies, preparing for family dinners, fighting crowds for the perfect gifts, and planning travel. Whew! Just reading this list stresses me out. It’s natural to want everything to be just right – and that touches on my first tip to lower holiday stress.


The “perfect holiday” is an illusion. Free yourself of the burden and simplify. Your list of “need-to-dos” sets you up for anxiety and disappointment if you’re unable to accomplish everything. Let go of all those Pinterest bookmarks. This is a season for celebration, relationships, and making memories. Our focus should be on simply enjoying family, being thankful for our blessings, and the reason for the season.


Delegate duties when you can. Send an older child or spouse to buy a gift you’ve not yet purchased. If a dinner guest offers to bring a dish, let them. And have a friend watch your younger child while you run to complete an errand.


Don’t over plan. There are tons of activities going on, and you can’t be everywhere. Don’t sweat it but take control. You don’t want the season to become something you dread. Plan your calendar ahead of the holiday and be realistic. My most cherished times are spent with family (human and fur) in front of a good fire in the hearth.


Create some me time. Shopping, decorating, and hosting can be exhausting, especially when you’re trying to make the holiday special for others. To refresh, find an hour or two each week to do something you enjoy. Read a good book, go for a walk, or take in a movie. Choose an activity that you can control and one that eases you of the thoughts on your mind.


Keep it healthy. Trying to get everything done may cause you to sacrifice exercise, sleep, and healthy eating. You may consume more alcohol or unhealthy foods than usual. All this combined is a recipe for disaster. Take steps to ensure that your health routine is not interrupted during this time. Stay hydrated, continue to exercise, and treat yourself without overindulging.


Holiday depression is real. It’s natural to miss a loved one who has passed. Acknowledge how you feel and take time to grieve. But it’s important to remember that those who are gone would not want you to lose your holiday joy but to remember them fondly. Find peace in new ways to celebrate. Sing your favorite songs, remain active with family and friends, participate in social activities, and volunteer for causes you find important.


Cut your spending. 42 percent of Americans find spending money the most stressful part of the holiday season. So, set a budget and stick to it. Look for deals throughout the year to lower your expenses or establish new ways to enjoy the celebrations. Heart-felt handmade gifts, letters, or inexpensive crafts are ways to show your love for others without breaking the bank.


There are several ideas to reduce your gift cost and still have a very special holiday. Here are a couple of them:


  • Place each family member’s name in a container and “draw names” 
  • Each person is responsible only for purchasing one gift. 
  • Consider setting guidelines such as, the gift must be thrifted, partially thrifted, handmade, 

or partially handmade.

  • Set an attainable maximum spending limit per gift.


One of my fondest family Christmas traditions is our annual Christmas Ornament exchange. Years ago, my family thought it would be fun if each person would purchase a unique or funny Christmas ornament instead of expensive gifts. We played a game where each attendee leaves with an adornment they did not bring. The stories of individuals finding these unique ornaments throughout the year are priceless. And annually, when decorating our tree with the Double Cheeseburger ornament, the pink fuzzy Hippo, or the Large Black Harley, the memories of Christmases past bring a smile to my face. This is a good reminder that holidays are not about Hallmark movie perfection but a time to celebrate relationships. When you find ways to simplify the season and just feel the joy, you’ll also find that you’ve lessened your holiday stress and perhaps the anxiety on your families.


I will close with this blessing that I recently read:


“God’s presence brings peace, so I wonder, ‘Why don’t I always feel peaceful?’ It’s a matter of the mind. Preparations for the holidays can fill my mind so much. Hence, I leave God on the perimeter and start wringing my hands in worry instead of folded in prayer to the One who can actually do something about my anxieties.”  


May you find peace this Christmas Season. Merry Christmas, Polk County.

by Michelle Fortune


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