de-stress-relaxWith the gift-giving, the cooking, the decorations and the parties, the holidays can seem to be more like work than a vacation. Here are some ideas how to make the most of your holiday season.

Seek a fresh perspective

Make a change. Take one task that drives you crazy during the holidays and tackle it in a new way. A fresh approach just might make a difference. For example, if you dread having to send out holiday cards, enlist your spouse and split the list/send e-cards or send a photo card of a great memory.

Be satisfied with “good enough.”

“Don’t always go for bigger and better,” when planning your holiday, advises Loretta LaRoche, author of Life Is Not a Stress Rehearsal. “Does the tree have to be bussed in from the hinterlands of Alaska?” she quips. “Isn’t a little bush enough?”

Do you have to cook 12 dishes of “traditional foods” because everybody expects it? Think back and remind yourself about the barely touched/ignored dishes and don’t cook them. If you get any grumbles suggest the “grumblee” make that dish next year.  Split the load and assign tasks ahead of time so that you can be a party to the party.

Drop Expensive, High-stress Ritualsde-stress the holidays

If you’re dragging your kids off to see The Nutcracker—it’s a tradition!—but they’re whining every step of the way, make a switch. True, families thrive on traditions, but it’s less about the event itself, which your kids may have outgrown, and more about time together. If your kids are complaining, drop expensive, high-stress rituals in favor of something simple and universally appealing, like a Christmas Eve chocolate-chip pancake feast.

Remember to Have Fun

As you take part in trimming the tree or preparing the cookies with your kids/friends, take a deep breath and savor the moment. Give yourself permission to forget about all those tasks still left on your to-do list. Focus on being present and in the now!

Pack Smart

Tuck everyone’s sleepwear and toothbrushes in one easy-to-reach bag. That first night when you arrive at Grandma’s house or another destination, you won’t be fumbling through every suitcase before bedtime.

Hold on to Daily Rituals

If you like to read for half an hour before bed, don’t give it up in favor of yet another holiday chore. Our everyday practices help calm and center us.

Schedule  de-stress-take-a-drive

During the busy holiday season, Brenda DeHaan of Wagner, South Dakota, and her husband seek out one afternoon of serenity. Each year the couple embarks on a leisurely drive, with a stop to observe the eagles that winter alongside the Missouri River. “It’s a peaceful time, when we don’t worry about rushing anywhere,” says Brenda. Can’t escape for a whole afternoon? Then head outdoors for a refreshing change of scene- bundle up and take a starlit nighttime stroll through your neighborhood to view the holiday lights.

What do you do to de-stress during the Holidays?

We want to know. Maybe it will help another reader avoid the crazy-making this time of year.

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