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Holiday stress comes from many different directions. It comes from wanting to travel to see extended family and from having to do the million and one things to get ready for a trip – washing clothes, packing the suitcases,  and finding someone to care for the pets. Then there’s the shopping for gifts, food preparations, and late night holiday to-do tasks that never seem to end. Does that sound like your holiday season? It doesn’t have to be.

If it has been for you in years past, then it’s time to make some changes, and stop the stress before it has a chance to start this year.

Not only is stress not good for your health, it’s also not good for others who deal with stressed out people!  The holidays are meant to be slowly enjoyed, not rushed through trying to pack as much as we can into every moment and get everything just right.  The meaning of Christmas has disappeared beneath an onslaught of activities and gift buying.  It’s time to fix that.

Narrow your focus.  We take on too many responsibilities and then feel overwhelmed (and stressed and sometimes short tempered) at all we have to accomplish within a given time limit.

Spend your time and energy on what matters to you and your family and let go of the things that don’t.  There’s no such thing as a perfect holiday.  If your family doesn’t care if you make every party you’re invited to, then don’t go.

Learn to delegate chores.  You can’t clean an entire home alone for the arrival of company if you’re trying to get all of the cooking and baking done, too.  Enlist family members to help and if they can’t, splurge on a maid service to do the holiday cleaning for you.  Make it a gift you give yourself to help you maintain a stress-free Christmas.

Get organized.  You need a master checklist.  Knowing what you need to get done will help you to keep your focus.  Keep all of your Christmas supplies organized and together – the tape, scissors, name tags, and gift-wrap.  You’ll save time if you don’t have to constantly search for what you need.  Eliminate any last minute running around for forgotten items at the store, by making a list.

Make a holiday budget and stick to it!  Throughout the year, finances can be a major cause of stress but that stress can grow during the holidays due to overspending.  People don’t overspend at Christmas because they’re bad people.  They overspend because they want to give.  But when the holiday is over and those bills roll in, it can take a toll. Instead, stick to a spending limit this Christmas.

Make up a schedule.  Just as importantly as sticking to a budget is sticking to a time limit.  It’s no fun rushing around, trying to cram months’ worth of visiting loved ones into a few days.  Know ahead of time who you’ll visit, on what day and what time you should leave.  Making a list takes some of the spontaneity out of it, but it also helps you to enjoy a stress-free Christmas, too!