4 Steps to More Enjoyable, Less Stressful Holidays (Part 2)

4 Steps to More Enjoyable, Less Stressful Holidays (Part 2)

This is PART 2 of a 4-PART article written with you in mind and designed to help minimize the stresses associated with over packed, overdone holidays so you have time for self-care, enjoy your time with family and friends and create the holiday season that best fits you and yours.

In Part 1, I discussed the importance of getting clear on what you WANT your holidays to look like and be like.  And, just as important – what you DON’T WANT.  And, I gave you a simple process for developing your vision.  In this article I will lead you through the process of creating a plan to make sure you get what you want.

Step 2: Create Your Plan

This is the single most critical thing you can do to ensure YOU enjoy your holidays.    Remember your overall goal is to create enjoyable, relatively stress-free holidays. Believe it or not, others will have a more enjoyable holiday if you are not overly stressed, too tired or demanding too much of yourself and others.

Be honest about your limitations and embrace them.  Review your list “Looking Forward to It” – the one you created in Step 1, and be brutally honest about what is realistic and what isn’t. 

Pare it down, if necessary, to the top most important things to you this holiday season.  This is a great place to prioritize numerically!  Be sure to include a budget as this will help you decide if what you want to do is realistic this year.  If you have trouble deciding between choices, think in terms of your investment (time, money, energy) and the payoff (amount of enjoyment for you).  Ask yourself questions to help you choose.  If you enjoy baking, but didn’t get around to it last year because you were too busy, how will you feel if you don’t do it again this year?  Compared to other items on your list, how does this rank?  Do this with each item and your final list of goals will include those that really appeal to you and feel doable.

Your original brainstorming list might look like this:

  • Host Thanksgiving dinner
  • Send Christmas or Holiday cards
  • Finish the bathroom remodel before Thanksgiving – (seriously, this is on my list!)
  • Shop online for presents
  • Bake Christmas cookies
  • Participate in a cookie exchange
  • See at least one holiday movie at the theaters
  • Take a holiday trip
  • Cut your own tree
  • Celebrate winter solstice
  • Donate to charities
  • Volunteer
  • Attend services
  • Spend time with friends expressing gratitude
  • Play board games
  • And on, and on, and on

Your final list might look like this considering time, energy and finances:

  • Finish bathroom remodel
  • Host Thanksgiving Dinner
  • Choose charities and donate
  • Plan an evening to socialize with friends
  • Plan a date with your spouse
  • Shop on-line
  • Send Christmas greetings
  • Plan for Holiday family gatherings
  • Drive around to look at Christmas lights
  • Take time for quiet in nature
  • Attend church services

Determine to continue your regular self-care practices.  Lots of people let go of routine self-care practices – exercise, yoga, prayer, meditation, healthy eating, time out for play during the holiday season.  Letting go of these routines actually diminishes your enjoyment and adds to stress.  Stick to your routine self-care practices!  Even better, add them to your list above!  That way you won’t forget to schedule time for them on your calendar.

Decide to Make healthy choices.  Overeating, overdrinking, overspending and overdoing come with consequences that frankly take away from our enjoyment rather than adding to it.  And the consequences of each of these behaviors can stay with us long after the holidays are done. Pay attention to your feelings!

  • If you are tired, stop and rest!
  • There is an abundance of articles available this time of year to help you make healthy food choices over the holidays.
  • Use alcohol wisely so you avoid unpleasant consequences of excess like family arguments, hangovers, impulsive behaviors not usually engaged in by you (think office parties and reputations.
  • Let go of trying to control (make) others do anything– invitation by example is far more persuasive than overt attempts to control.  Keep the focus on yourself.  It’s okay to enjoy yourself!
  • Use a budget tool.  I like Dave Ramsey’s Every Dollar app.  There is a free version (you enter each budget item and income and expenses manually).  Or there is an inexpensive version synced to your online accounts so amounts can be downloaded.

In Part 3, we’ll continue working on our holiday plan…

Read Part 3