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Holiday Survival 101

It’s the beginning of the holiday season and with it comes more than just visions of sugar plums. For many of us, visions of stress, fatigue, and anxiety are at the forefront of the season. Here are some tips to help you avoid the holiday blues!

• Can’t stand the thought of going to the mall? Between the fights for the last remaining parking spot, to the crowds of exhausted shoppers, to the budget slamming bills, shopping can be one of the most stressful parts of this time of year. It may sound simple, but it’s true. Just don’t do it! Shop online or shop locally. Most websites offer coupon codes for free shipping and comparison shopping is made simple by shopping online. If you prefer to do your spending out of the house, then shop locally. Go to your local small shops or flea markets. You can find great deals, smaller crowds, and you help your local economy. Make a list of what you are looking for before you leave or log on.

• It never fails. There’s always that one person that you forgot to pick something up for. Suddenly, there you are, holding their thoughtfully wrapped gift in your hands, and you go into panic mode. “I HAVE NOTHING TO GIVE HER IN RETURN! HELP!” This year, keep a couple of small ticket items wrapped in a closet. A simple candle or a bottle of wine or even a basket of bath soaps, set aside just in case, can help ease your mind if nothing else. In fact, keeping a small amount of “go to” items year round is a great stress reliever. Whether it’s a forgotten birthday or a last minute holiday emergency, if you know it’s there, you can relax.

• No matter how much we love our families, sometimes those family get-togethers bring more than just overeating and hugs. If you tend to find yourself feeling stress around your loved ones, try these ideas. Have a few responses in mind for those stress-inducing questions that you know are coming. Use humor when possible. And when all else fails, have a few “get away” options at your disposal. Take a walk. Run an errand. Sometimes just having “an out” if needed can relieve anxiety.

Anxiety can be at its highest while deciding where to spend the holidays. Trying to please everyone usually leads to pleasing very few. Women especially tend to feel the pressure to please. So, if you are drowning in a sea of invitations and expectations, sit down with the one or two people who need to make the decisions as soon as possible. Take a realistic look at your schedule and what is and is not possible. If needed, schedule a dinner on an optional date. Many families have started celebrating the holidays in the weeks prior or following the day itself in an effort to simplify and ease some of the tension of the holiday itself.

• Delegate! If you are hosting the big family dinner this year, ease the stress on your plate by hosting a potluck. Or, if that’s not an option, buy a few prepared dishes before so that you aren’t focused on the cooking when you could be focused on the fun.

• Take some time for you. Read a book. Watch a movie. Order a pizza one night. Take some of the pressure off yourself. Think about perspectives. Look back on your holidays in years past. How many times can you remember any major disappointments because you didn’t get the “right” gift or eat the “perfect turkey?” It’s doubtful that any of your family members will look back in 10 years with disappointment. Breathe. Laugh. Let go of some of that self-induced pressure to be perfect. Remember that it will be ok, and sometimes being ok is a gift in and of itself.

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