Yes, in case you've forgotten, you can have fun over the holidays. But with family, shopping, cooking and hosting, it's easy to get stressed out. Here's how to put the "fest" back into your festivities.
If there's a holiday event and you're part of it, treat it the same way you would any important project:
- Plan ahead to get things done. Make lists. Organize. Delegate.
- Keep it simple. Don't shoot for the moon. Getting together doesn't need to be extravagant. Or perfect. Odds are Martha Stewart won't be there taking notes.
- Say no. It's not a crime to opt out of something — especially when you've already got too much on your plate.
- Make a budget. Any holiday has the potential to cost you: gifts, food, drinks, travel, and a dozen little things all add up. So budget, set a limit and stick to it.
Friends you can pick; family you're generally stuck with. So here's how to handle them:
- Be serene. Put any family problems, rivalries or hostilities behind you for now. But do plan to work out your problems some other time, in private.
- Be accepting. They are who they are. And so are you. Don't expect Uncle Fred to stop telling the same embarrassing stories just because it's a holiday. If you really can't stand it, leave the room.
- Be understanding. Not everyone can be there for every gathering. No matter what the holiday, married family members (especially those married more than once) likely have other people to see.
- Be inclusive. Involve everyone in activities, games, outings and even watching television so that it's geared to get everyone in the holiday spirit.
During the holidays, it's easy to indulge in too much food or alcohol and completely ignore your need for sleep and exercise. Unfortunately, that could put a damper on your fun. Remember to:
- Enjoy food and alcohol in moderation. Too much of either will likely diminish the fun part, and increase stress, for obvious reasons.
- Put sleep and exercise on your to-do list. Sleep and exercise can help reduce any stress you're feeling.
Sometimes, the stress is going to be there no matter what, like stress caused by a life change, such as an illness in the family, a job loss or divorce or separation. But you can try to beat the holiday blues by:
- Finding someone to talk to
- Attending special holiday events sponsored by community groups or religious organizations
- Doing volunteer work — food banks, community centres, seniors' homes
- Getting as much natural light as possible — Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can put a big crimp in winter holiday fun