I remember that scene from Bridget Jones when Mark and Bridget first meet in a Christmas family gathering. Bridget glances at Mark’s reindeer sweater, a present from his mom, and decides to pass on him.

I guess such things happen to every one of us:

Getting Christmas gifts we’re embarrassed about… Your fifth aunt checking in to see you at Christmas…¬†Create the perfect dinner for 20 people… Balancing time to take care of Aunty, Mom, Husband, Kids and the Dog. ūüôā

It doesn’t have to be that way!

What if I told you that there is a way to enjoy the holiday season... without stress? Read about 9 tips to reduce and even avoid holiday stress. Click To Tweet

 

Tip #1: Breathe

Stop for a minute. Reconnect to yourself. Best is, if you do it at a place where you are by yourself, without any distraction (if at all possible, around Christmas!).

Ask yourself these two questions:

“How do I feel right now?”

“What do I truly want?”

Recognizing our emotional state often gives us indication of when stress level increases, so by being mindful we can easily avoid outbursts.

 

Tip #2: Put yourself (too) before others

Holidays are about spending quality time with your loved ones, but it doesn’t mean burning out and ending your year with a chronic fatigue, does it?

You remember airline security anouncements about putting on your own oxygen mask before helping your children? Because frankly, how can you support others if you yourself are totally burned out?

Keep this in mind when taking on the 13,958,274th commitment for the holiday season.

 

Tip #3: Be grateful

Family gatherings are a great occasion for showcasing deficit mindset, that is – focusing on what you don’t have versus what you do. The so-called ‘keep-up-with-the-Jones’ syndrome…

Your younger sister looks so… hm, younger? Your brother seems happier? And your second cousing just bought a fancy car? Don’t fall in these traps!

Appreciate what you have… and appreciate who you are.

Yepp. You don’t need to be perfect. Accept yourself and in whichever way your holiday goes out, you’ll enjoy that time…

 

Tip #4:  Learn to say no

I know I sound like a broken record, but yes, that is key.

The truth is, you’ll never be liked by everyone, so wanting to please to every human being is not a realistic expectation to hold on to.

Now that this myth is debunked, what if you would stand up for what you want and start practicing saying ‘no’?

Note: I understand that the fear to disappoint others might be a major withholding force. What if you took it as a game and just tried it out? Once. You might realize that reactions are not even as bad as you imagined…

 

Tip #5: Focus on what’s important

You feel that stress level increasing in your body? Time to stop it… And decide what is important enough to care about.

Do you have 20 Christmas cards to send out? Great! Which are the 5 most important that you don’t want to miss?

Have 17 gifts to buy? I hear you! Which 3 persons are on the top of you list?

Start with the most important ones (people, gifts, tasks etc.) and do the rest if you have time left (and energy!).

 

Tip #6: Offer an experience versus a gift

Some of us lose creativity at Christmas and tend to think in terms of gifts and gifts and gifts. We create a loooooooooong shopping list… and by the time we get through to half of the list, we’re already stressed out.

Don’t let this be you!

Does it help if I tell you that offering an experience is anyway a much better idea than giving a physical object as gift?

And what if I added that on top of that, it’s easier for you too – no prep needed, just the joy of giving.

So, any zoo visits, coffee afternoons, fancy fair weekends or rugby matches you can gift your loved ones? ūüôā

 

Tip #7: Simplify

I know you could go to the mall and visit 57 shops to get all the gifts you need… Or eventually go to 3 malls and visit 171 shops…

But, there’s also the choice of delivery.

Last year at Christmas I was in the middle of cancer treatment. And while I invited over the whole family for a few days, I still needed help with groceries and I knew my husband would be stressed out of that. So I ordered everything online, ready for him to pick up from the shop and go. That was holiday groceries in 5 minutes!

This year, I took it a step further:

I personally love the holiday season, the joyful waiting time, the idea of giving. And while I never run out of good ideas, I do hate that part of queuing up with hundreds of others. It’s not about the time-wasting aspect, more the crowd and the negative energy that sometimes comes with it.

So this year, I changed tactic and ordered every gift (!) from delivery services. No need to go anywhere, just getting inspired… and picking a reliable shopping partner.

What can you simplify?

 

Tip #8: Use short-cuts

There’s the story of the Christmas or New Year’s dinner. You know, the one that needs to be perfect.

But what if you take a step back and settle with only 99% perfect?

That’s exactly what I did last year, in the midst of cancer. Cooking twice a meal for my whole family for days was a bit of a challenge, so I turned this around:

I prepared the main course and made a list of all appetizers, side dishes and desserts that I could order from elsewhere. Combined with my main course, or using the right decoration elements, it was just as great as if I did it all by myself (that’s my family saying it, not me!).

Also, anything else you can prepare upfront so you can spend the most of your Christmas with your loved ones, versus in the kitchen?

And finally…

 

Tip #9: Authorise yourself a break

You worked so hard and you’re doing everything to make the holidays enjoyable for others.

You deserve a break!

Let holiday be not only about work and being there for others, but also.. being there for yourself.

Do something that makes you happy and refills your batteries – a fun activity… a walk in the snow-covered forest… a candlelight bath while sipping your favorite tea… your fave comedy in TV… Whatever it is, the main thing, you have fun.

 

Now over to you! Which of these tips resonated with you most? What are your favorite holiday stress-reduction tips to add to the pot? Share with us in a comment below!