As the Holiday season approached, the task list seems to grow at a faster pace than most can keep up with. Winding down the year at most jobs anticipating some down time is only replaced with holiday travel, cooking preparations, gift buying, entertaining, home decoration, tree trimming, kids off of school, relative visiting hectic schedules of pure stressful bliss…… yikes!. Preparing for the holidays can be many things and bring out many feelings, all exciting and very busy. This anticipation of what needs accomplished and when can be overwhelming and create very stressful situations, turning into your very own rendition of the next episode of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” if you’re not careful.

Remember that the holidays are meant to be a joyous and festive time. Try not to overextend yourself, and focus on the things that bring you and your loved ones happiness, but regardless of the attempt, pre-holiday stress is common for many people as they navigate through the demands of work, social obligations, and preparations for the upcoming celebrations. There doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to get everything done while still dealing with life’s daily challenges. By taking some proactive steps to manage stress, you can increase the likelihood of enjoying the season more fully.

Planning and prioritizing and trying diligently to stay with the plan is challenging enough, but can certainly help you manage your stress level and actually enjoy the holiday season.

First of all it is important to be realistic about what you can accomplish. Understand that not everything has to be perfect and it is okay to ask for help. Start by making a needs done list, prioritize essential tasks and let go of less important ones, otherwise your list will be the first overwhelming point. Keep tasks broken down in small, manageable chunks.

Set a budget for holiday expenses and stick to it. Financial burden and overextending is by far one of the number one contributors to stress, conflict and arguments and that is not what anyone intends to be a part of during the holiday season.

Learn to Say No. It’s okay to decline invitations or commitments that add to your stress. You can’t attend every function, accept every invitation, tie up every evening and weekend and expect to get what you set out to do accomplished. Politely communicate your limits to others and focus on what is truly important to you.

Overall, practice time management. Don’t overextend yourself and certainly don’t procrastinate. Waiting until the last minute to accomplish something will almost always send someone’s stress level into orbit, especially if it is when guests’ arrivals come into play.

And most importantly, take breaks, reward yourself, give yourself time to recharge. Keep calm and realize most things on a holiday task list are only apparent to you. Guests won’t notice and remember; your family and friends are coming, invited or not, there coming… but they are coming to see you, to spend time with you… they really don’t care if the top shelf in the hallway closet is organized and dusted…so relax and enjoy yourself this year.

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