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3 Steps to a Stress-free Holiday Season

Holidays are typically stressful everyone. Even if you boycotted the holidays, you’d still have to contend with the traffic, crowds and endless tracks of holiday music playing everywhere!

While many of us enjoy and look forward to the holidays, it doesn’t make them much easier. Time with family, as loving as they might be, can trigger tough emotions and bring us back to our 10 year old selves—in a heartbeat.

The inordinate amount of food around us—cakes, cookies, fudge and all the rest of it (cheese balls and fondue anyone?) invade our consciousness and make it hard to stick to our normally healthy routine.

Add eggnog and other alcoholic beverages and you have the perfect storm!

The good news is that the holidays can be different this year. There are actually things you can do right now that will enable you to be more centered, less stressed and fully prepared to enjoy your family and friends—and have no need for impossible resolutions in the new year.

Take these 3 steps and you can “take back the holidays” this season:

  1. Don’t do too much

Resist the temptation to do too. You don’t have to go to every party you’re invited to. Honestly evaluate your schedule and determine what you can do, without causing too much stress. (If you don’t mind being stressed out or gaining weight you don’t have to say “no” to anything.) We have to choose between doing everything and paying the price, or setting limits on our time and energy and being more balanced and peaceful. If you really want to enjoy your family, be kind to your kids and stay on track with a healthy diet, just do less and let it be OK. Trust me…no one else really cares. So cut yourself some slack and choose a schedule that feels more self-caring.

  1. Ask for help

The hardest thing for any of us to do seems to be asking for help. We want to do it all. But there’s no need to live up to “super hero” status. That’s a prescription for stress.

Instead, see what tasks can be delegated to others. Last November I was in the process of moving and doing some remodeling and I couldn’t get the holiday cards out without help. I paid a gal to do it for me. She did such a good job I had her mail my gifts to family members for me. What a difference it made! I normally would insist on doing these things myself and saving the money, but I sidestepped a lot of stress, which was money well spent!

Consider who you can enlist (family, friends or someone you hire) to help you with chores, cooking, cleaning or shopping. It’s humbling to admit you can’t do it all, but so freeing, as well. Try it this year. Give others the opportunity to give and feel like they contributed…it’ll be a win-win.

  1. Stop playing God

We are one of the reasons the holidays can get so stressful. Our need to control the world around us—family members, how things look, and whether others have a good time—can drive us (and others) a little crazy. But this is optional stress. Were we to “let go and let God”, even just a little bit, we’d quickly see how much more fun we, and others, can actually have. Things don’t need to be perfect. The schedule doesn’t have to go as planned. There’s a saying: “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”. The point is that choosing to have an “easy does it” attitude this holiday season will enable you to be much more relaxed and happy. When you stop focusing on how things are “supposed to be” or the way you think they should be, you can start to enjoy the people and beauty around you. Try it. When you trust that everything will work out you’ll see how rewarding “not playing God” can really be.

You may have noticed that the overall theme here is really to slow down, stop controlling things, and allow yourself to have more fun. The holidays don’t have to be stressful. It’s our approach to the holidays that make all the difference. Start doing things differently today and enjoy the season!

Tricia Nelson is the host of the Heal Your Hunger podcast and founder of Heal Your Hunger Inc., which helps people get to the heart of why they overeat and how to stop. Get more of Tricia’s free holiday tips at