Ah, the holidays. Merriment, good cheer and Irving Berlin postcard moments. We all know that along with the falala’s come a whole bunch of stress. From dealing with family, to traffic at the mall to endless social obligations, the holidays can easily turn us into the Grinch. But there is hope and a way to cope with the challenges of the season. We can focus on the joys the holidays have to offer. Dr. Jeannine Klein, NCU Director, University Curriculum, shares with us her Top Five Tips to Stay Sane During the Holidays:
- Set a holiday budget and stick to it: The holidays aren’t about gift-giving. They are about family and friends. Too many people end up in debt by overspending and that debt, along with its associated stress, is a gift that keeps on giving far beyond the holiday season. One thoughtfully considered gift holds more meaning to the recipient than a stash of items that may end up unused or given away,.
- Don’t overextend yourself: If you’re hosting a party, don’t be afraid to delegate. A potluck can be just as fun as a sit-down dinner. Don’t feel obligated to attend every party to which you are invited. If you have an extended family, you can easily spend more time traveling than being with each other. Discuss holiday plans well in advance with various family members; odds are they probably feel the same stress you do. Alternating location and hosting duties is a fairly common strategy used by families to help combat holiday stress. Gaining popularity as well are family gatherings mid-year when weather is nicer, especially in colder climates.
- Take time for you: Ever notice how more people seem to catch a cold during the holiday season? Stress lowers the immune system, making us more susceptible to illness. It’s OK to say no if you aren’t up to yet another holiday gathering. Additionally, set a deadline for gift-buying so you don’t rush out at the last minute to grab one more item. If your house isn’t spotless, it’s OK. Joy and laughter are your goals with holiday get-togethers, not the stress of trying to be perfect.
- Party smart: Everyone is aware of the dangers of drinking to excess during the holidays, or putting on extra pounds from indulging in holiday treats. Moderation is the key. One glass of Grandma’s spiked egg nog is OK. Having one of Mom’s famous sugar cookies is OK. But overindulging often affects our physical health, and by extension, not feeling well affects our enjoyment of being with people about whom we care.
- Find the meaning: Sure food and gifts are holiday traditions for most of us but don’t lose sight of what the season really means. It’s about enjoying time with family and friends, and making new acquaintances. Think about starting some new traditions – volunteering with a community organization; collecting toys for a toy drive; helping out in a shelter, or visiting older adults in assisted living facilities. These are all ways that you can reinforce the meaning of celebrating the holidays and making new connections.