The holidays are one of the most joyful times of the year, but they can also be among the most stressful. From shopping for gifts and checking off those holiday to-dos to cooking feasts for your family while trying to keep the holiday weight off, it’s no wonder so many people feel a spike in anxiety when the holidays approach.
Instead stressing out this season, let the holidays be a time of peace and joy. Here are four hacks to help you handle your holidays with less anxiety so you can enjoy the spirit of the season.
Follow a Holiday Budget
Drawing up and following a strict holiday budget is the best way to ensure that Christmas spending doesn’t give you the blues. A sound budgeting guideline is to devote 50 percent of your monthly income toward necessities and 20 percent toward repaying debts and pursuing savings goals before using the remaining 30 percent for discretionary spending. Following this principle throughout the year and setting aside part of your discretionary budget for gift shopping can enable you to avoid a holiday fiscal crunch.
Minimize In-Store Shopping
Fighting through crowds, standing in long lines and trying to get items on sale before they sell out can all be sources of stress. Reduce your in-store shopping anxiety by minimizing how much time you spend at the mall. Ordering from online suppliers such as Amazon can let you get most of your shopping done from the comfort of your own home and on your own schedule. Another alternative is to use a personal shopper. You can hire a personal shopper if you can afford it, or many larger retailers such as Macy’s, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s will even provide you with a free personal shopper at certain locations. Check your retailer’s website and talk to their local store to find out about their personal shopper programs.
Make Decorating Easy
Decorating can be another source of holiday stress. Picking out the right decorations, finding time to set them up and then getting motivated to take them down again can all become sources of stress. Reduce your decoration anxiety by choosing decorations that are easy to set up. For instance, a pre-lit Christmas tree will save you the time of putting up lights, and can be reused every year. And with many tree styles available, you’re sure to find one the whole family loves. You can likewise avoid the hassle of putting up Christmas lights on the outside of your house by using a projector such as Star Shower Motion.
Plan Your Meal Preparation
Where men tend to worry about money during the holidays, many women say that cooking special meals is what stresses them out the most. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by holiday cooking, do yourself a favor and delegate. You can throw a potluck, or you can buy a prepared bird from the store instead of cooking it yourself. If you do plan to cook your own bird, start thawing it in your refrigerator well in advance, since this can take days depending on the weight. For other food items, prepare as much as you can in advance so that you don’t have a big rush at the last minute.
Follow a Smart Dieting and Exercise Strategy
After you’re done eating, another source of stress is losing the weight you just gained. Concerns over healthy eating and exercise ranked as the second biggest cause of holiday anxiety in a survey by Healthline. One of the simplest strategies for preventing holiday weight gain is to weigh yourself twice a week, which can help motivate you to watch your diet. Establishing a morning exercise routine and maintaining it during the holidays will help you burn off calories before they add up. At holiday parties, avoid stuffing yourself with everything you see, but focus on the food you see that you really like first, resisting the temptation to nibble snacks before your main course. Having a little to eat before the party starts so that you don’t come hungry can help you follow this guideline.