It’s no secret that along with the happy times of the Christmas holidays, we are all guilty of over committing time, over spending, and placing excessive demands on ourselves to make the holiday great. In the end, all of these can lead to causing you stress and anxiety during a time when you should be enjoying peace and joy. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and with the right approach and preparation, you can keep it all in check so this Christmas you’ll be decking the halls, walking in a winter wonderland, and bringing joy to the world…with laughter and fun.

Top 10 ways to keeping stress and anxiety out of your life during the holidays:
1. Plan ahead
Set aside a few days for shopping, and plan your baking day in advance. Plan your meal, and get your grocery shopping done in advance. If you’ve delegated some chores, post the schedule where everyone can see it so the expectations are clear to everyone about when to complete their tasks. Communication is key!
2. Take a breather
Amid all of the chaos, allow yourself some serenity. Quiet time for a bath, to catch up with a girlfriend, or go see a movie. It is your time to do what your really enjoy, and it will mean you come back to the holiday duties more refreshed and with a clear head.
3. Stick to a budget
An avalanche of gift will not buy happiness. In fact, in the end it leaves you with more stress if you’ve racked up bills that you will struggle to pay. Decide beforehand what your budget is for gifts and food, and stick to it! When you know it’s in control, you’ll feel comfortable with your purchases and the bills that will result.
4. Say NO!
Saying no does not make you selfish. The reality is, you can’t please everyone all of the time. It’s ok to say no to the neighbour’s party, or the trip out of town on the weekend to see old friends. You need to be realistic about how much you can do, and take into account time for yourself to relax. if it’s absolutely impossible to say no to something, consider if there are other less important things you can give up in exchange.
5. Accept what you can’t change
There are just some things you can’t change, like family members that just don’t get along. Adult children that can’t make it to Christmas this year. When things start to stress you out, pause to think about whether it can be changed, or if it’s out of your control. If it just can’t be changed, finding acceptance will give you peace . Then focus on something that does bring you joy, like taking family photographs, doing some Christmas baking, or taking a long hot bath.
6. Stop doing things that sap your time and make you more stressed.
Do a gift exchange to cut down on Christmas shopping. Buy a pre-made gingerbread it instead of baking it from scratch. Maybe this year you just plan to buy a centrepiece rather than making it yourself. Shortcuts are OK! Find a few that will free up some time for what you really enjoy doing.
7. Keep active & maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Eat well, exercise, get a good night’s rest and keep the alcohol intake under control. The holidays shouldn’t be an excuse to overindulge in sugary & fatty foods, alcohol, or stopping your fitness routine. In fact you need that more than ever! You’ll feel stronger and more in control if you fuel your body with good rather than junk. And a bad hangover certainly will put a damper on your Christmas cheer! Don’t regret your actions.
8. Be realistic & delegate
When people take on a heavy load of responsibilities, often it can lead to resentment and exhaustion. Ease up your load and be realistic about what you can accomplish. Let go of your need to control everything and turn some tasks over to family members- including the kids! Have them set the table, or do the vacuuming before everyone arrives. If you’re worried about the napkins being set on the wrong side of the plate or someone missing a fork… see #5 below.
9. Don’t try to create a fairytale
Don’t pin your happiness on perfection. The stress that results from your own demands on yourself are in your control! Trying to achieve a Martha Stewart table, and a TV perfect family gathering isn’t reality. Striving to do things well is OK, but don’t expect perfection. The fairytale is in your head, not in everyone else’s. They really aren’t heartbroken if the turkey turned out a little bit dry or there were some lumps in the mashed potatoes.
10. Focus on gratitude
Never underestimate the power of gratitude to bring a feeling of peace to any situation. When you are feeling overwhelmed, stop and think of something you are grateful for. A warm house, a family that is together for another holiday, and food on the table. We all have something to be grateful for, and you probably don’t have to dig very deep to find some.