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5 Ways to "De-Stress" the Holidays

By Trish Robichaud, Maximum Life Coach

I challenge you to "de-stress" Christmas and Hanukah this year! For any healthy person, the holidays can be a time of enormous stress. For those of us with a chronic health condition, the need to make things manageable and realistic is even more crucial.

Contrary to what most people think, November is the best time to plan for the holiday season. Halloween is over and it's time to pack up all those plastic pumpkins and fake skeletons. The way to go is to "kill two birds with one stone". As you put the ghouls and goblins in storage, get the holiday decorations out at the same time! Even if they sit in a box in a corner for a couple of weeks, they'll be a reminder for you to start your seasonal planning.

#1. Early November is the time to put together two pertinent lists: The holiday greeting card list and the gift list. Systematize & simplify! Keep both of the lists on the computer, not in your head! If you keep them in the computer, you can print labels for envelopes and shopping lists for gift purchasing! If you keep them in your head, you have to do this task over and over again every single year — that's insane! :-( Then, every November all you have to do is review your lists to make any necessary revisions.

Get the greeting cards in the mail the first week of December. Rushing to do them the second week of the month will give you far less time to write personal greetings plus your stress level will be low enough for you to actually enjoy the task!

#2. Plan your shopping carefully. Do this BEFORE you make the first purchase. Start by deciding how much you want to spend on the holidays this year in total. For the sake of round numbers, I'm going to take $1,000 as an example. Then, take the amount that you'd like to spend on your spouse and/or children right off the top. Let's say $400. Then count the number of other people on your list. Be sure to count people closer to you as two or three purchases to be realistic — you know that you'll want to spend more on them. Let's say when you're done you've counted 20.

$1,000 - $400 = $600, $600 / 20 = $30. Now that doesn't mean that you're going to make purchases of $29.95 + tax per person. That means that you'll use $25 as a maximum ticketed amount to spend on each person. This plan will eliminate the nightmarish experience of reviewing the credit card bills when they come in January. With good planning, there will be no surprises and far fewer stresses around catching up.

#3. Next, get the shopping done early. Don't go to the malls, they're crowded, horrendous for parking and seriously over-priced. Check out some of the local seasonal craft shows — best place to find a unique gift. Try some catalogue shopping or online shopping. This will seriously cut back on your impulse purchases. Instead of that useless, mounted singing fish you buy at the last minute just so you have something to give, buy gift certificates so that they can take advantage of boxing day sales! WAY less stressful!

#4. Do decorate the house, but don't do it all by yourself. Delegate! Everyone can help. I know you want the house to look perfect for those holiday guests; but you know what? They won't even notice if you've let the children decorate the tree and the ornaments aren't exactly spaced evenly! Making a day (or a weekend) of it with the whole family is what memories are made of. Remember, this is how your children will remember their holidays when they have kids of their own.

#5. Keep the cooking simple. Do the basics but don't go hog wild on the details. If you need to buy cookies and treats — then buy them! If you have one holiday specialty that you make because you remember it from your mom making it in your childhood, then do it, but buy whatever else you can. In the end, the food gets eaten in twenty minutes flat. Do you really need to spend six hours or more preparing the meal? Did you know that you can buy frozen turkeys pre-stuffed? And they are delicious! I've been married almost twenty years and I've never cooked a turkey in my life! Ernest buys the pre-stuffed ones, cooks it himself and we always have a wonderful meal with the kids.

The bottom line is that the holidays are for making memories, not high blood pressure, family arguments, anxiety attacks, environmental tension or ongoing distress. Do any of these things sound familiar? If so, then please choose to "de-stress" for the holidays this year! You won't regret it. :-) •

© 2005 Trish Robichaud

About the Author:
Trish Robichaud is a Maximum Life Coach living with multiple sclerosis. She's grateful to have been blessed with a God-given, instinctive ability for seeing assets in people and then reflecting those assets back to them. This enables her clients to confidently reach for and unleash their full potential.

She facilitates TeleClasses and a monthly TeleSupport Group at no charge to participants as well as publishes a free monthly electronic newsletter. Her background is in business with training in supportive counselling and life skills facilitation. Together with her experience advocating for people with disabilities, this makes her ideally suited to coaching others through their life and vocational transitions. She can be found on the Web at 11/12/05

Everyday Self-Care Series
5 Ways to "De-Stress" the Holidays

Ten Ways to Take Back Your Time

Combat Stress by Creating Your Own Oasis

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