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Elizabeth Scott, M.S.

Prevent Yourself From Feeling Overwhelmed...

By December 14, 2013

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The holiday season's signature form of overwhelm often comes on slowly--"Wow, let's plan a party!" "Let's do some shopping!" "Wanna bake some cookies?" But somewhere along the way, while trying to balance parties, shopping, baking and other activities like holiday card-sending, caroling, traveling to visit relatives (or escape them), driving to see holiday lights, and participating in whatever other holiday traditions spring up, along with maintaining our often-hectic regular lives, things can feel overwhelming!

The key to a less-stressed holiday? Well, just as each snowflake is unique, but basically similar, your approach to holiday stress relief may be unique to you, but basically this: relax! Here are some ways in which you can do this:

  • Relax Standards
    Many of us drive ourselves and others crazy trying to create the 'perfect holiday season' for ourselves and, especially, for the children. In doing so, we may end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater and missing the big picture--the holiday season is supposed to be about joy! Try to relax your standards for what 'must' be done, and shrug off holiday perfectionism. Here's how to avoid holiday perfectionism.

  • Relax Schedules
    You don't need to follow every possible path to holiday memories. Really. Trying to do too many things can leave you feeling that you're not fully enjoying any of them because you feel so frazzled, rushed, and over-committed. Try this: think about what you've enjoyed over the years, and try to pick the top few highlights. (Ask your kids and spouse to do the same, if you have kids or a spouse.) Then, really prioritize these things. (Here are some more tips on how to prioritize.) Whereas the above tip involves doing many things with less precision and commitment, this tip involves cutting back on the overall amount of things you're doing, so you can really savor the things you actually do. You can try either approach, or try them both together; they work.

  • Relax Your Body
    As your holiday fun turns to holiday overwhelm, a quick way out is to practice relaxation techniques that will turn back your body's stress response and help you stress less and enjoy the season more, no matter what you're doing in the moment. I love to recommend taking a nice cleansing breath and going from there, because it works quickly and simply! Here are some more ways to become relaxed when you need to.

What are your best strategies for preventing holiday overwhelm? Share them here in the comments, or via Facebook or Twitter. And enjoy the holiday!

Photo from iStockPhoto.com

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December 5, 2010 at 8:36 am
(1) Riley Roam says:

Thanks for the great post. I’m gearing up for a holiday visit from my husband’s family. They’re staying at our house, so of course that means I need to clean out all the closets, organize the garage, paint the walk-way and landscape the yard, all while trying to run my own business and shop for gifts. Whew! I have to remember to just enjoy the season and the visit and if there’s a messy closet or two…so be it!

My two favorite stress relief methods are journaling and scripting. I write a script of what my perfect day, week or month looks like and I instantly feel calmer.

December 7, 2010 at 2:13 am
(2) stress says:

Sounds like you have quite a bit of excitement ahead of you–and you’ll have a beautiful house at the end of it, hehe!

I LOVE your use of ‘scripting’! Sounds like a wonderful stress relief method, and a very creative one at that. I think I’ll borrow it this month :)

December 6, 2012 at 11:04 am
(3) Frankie says:

I make sure I keep to my workout schedule!

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