Between buying and wrapping gifts, playing Santa and prepping and cooking a meal for 12, the joy of the Christmas season can quickly dissolve into stress if you're not careful.
Some simple tactics can help reduce the holiday stress and allow you to enjoy the season more, like letting go of past family arguments and making time for yourself, whether it be to get some extra sleep or go to yoga.
Just in case that's a little easier said than done for you this year, here is your official permission to stop stressing about these 25 things this Christmas. What holiday stressors will you stop worrying about this year? Tell us in the comments below!
1. Spending big bucks on the best presents. A homemade gift can be worth much more.
2. Crafting. On the other hand, if you just don't have the time, no need to stress over homemade gifts, either.
3. Thinking up the perfect present for everyone on your list. A gift certificate for a massage may not be the most personal choice, but she'll like it, we promise.
4. Giving the same gift to multiple people. Unless they live under the same roof, they'll never know!
5. If one of your giftees wants to return your gift. Don't take it personally!
6. Cooking everything yourself. It's okay to delegate!
7. Staging elaborate scenes with the Elf On The Shelf. Who has the time?
8. A homemade pie crust. No one will notice.
9. A last-minute addition to the guest list. They won't expect an elaborate, personal gift; they'll just be glad to have your company and hospitality.
10. A real Christmas tree.
11. Christmas-themed table decorations.
12. Sending Christmas cards/photos. You keep in touch with the people you want to keep in touch with already. Shoot your other friends a "Thinking of you" email and save yourself the stress of staging the family photo.
13. Arguments. They happen. Move on.
14. Wrapping stocking stuffers. That's what the stocking is for!
15. Attempting to be everywhere at once. Trying to make it to 4 p.m. Christmas dinner at your mom's house, dad's house and significant other's house is physically impossible. Don't ruin your own Christmas just to please others!
16. Accepting every holiday party invitation. It's important to say no to certain things to make time for yourself.
17. Going to church service on Sunday, Christmas Eve service on Monday and Christmas service on Tuesday. If things are getting stressful, just pick one.
18. Preparing a 100 percent traditional meal.
19. Inviting the whole family over for Christmas Eve or Christmas dinner. There's plenty of time to see everyone throughout the holiday season.
20. Professional-caliber wrapping. It gets torn, after all. Why not recycle some newspaper?
21. Spending the same amount of money on each friend/sibling/child. Just because a gift for one of them costs a little extra doesn't mean you love one any more than the other.
22. Dining out. Lots of restaurants are open on Christmas, and you can start a fun tradition. Others will even whip you up a more traditional holiday meal to eat in the comfort of your own home.
23. Buying a card for every present. A simple tag -- even something made out of wrapping paper -- will do.
24. Trying to cram in every single Christmas tradition -- going out to look at lights, building the perfect snowman, making sure you bake the Christmas cookies, having the house all decorated. If you run out of time for one (or a few!) of these traditions, remember: There's always next year!
25. Taking the lights down promptly.
For more ways to de-stress this holiday season, check out these tips from PsychCentral.com Founder, and HuffPost Blogger, Dr. John Grohol:
Remember the holidays aren't just about shopping. All too often we get caught up in the shopping, the endless sales, the "need" to make sure we buy something for everyone, that we lose sight of things that really matter -- our friendships, our family, our spirituality, our fellow man (and woman) who may be less fortunate than us. Even in tough economic times (some might say, especially in such times), others need our help even when we feel we have little to offer. Volunteer at a food bank, do something additional for your church, adopt a family in need this season. If you cut just 10 percent of your spending on gifts and donated that money to charity, you'd be surprised at how much a difference such giving would help. As an added bonus, research shows such giving makes us feel better about ourselves, too.
While rushing around during the holidays, we often put ourselves last on the "to do" list. We also feel guilty when we indulge in things we wouldn't ordinarily indulge in ("Another piece of pie? Why, thank you!"). Give yourself a break this season, forgive your transgressions, and be kind to yourself. That means taking some time out for yourself and your needs, even if it's just a few minutes of solitude in the morning or before you go to bed that you can relax, catch up a crossword puzzle or some reading, and just enjoy your own company. It also means not beating yourself if you step off your diet or can't get to the gym for a few days. More people cause themselves more anxiety and stress about beating themselves up over such decisions, when the resulting difference is almost always negligible. If you're feeling blue or lonely during the holidays, join the crowd. So here are 10 things you can do if you find yourself alone.
We often get into trouble by over-indulging in things. Whether it's food, drink, or just the amount of time we spend with relatives, it's easy to go overboard. Aristotle knew a thing or two of what he was talking about a few thousand years ago, and yet it's a lesson many of us forget. While the holidays are a good "excuse" to stop being moderate in our drinking or eating, we should resist the urge to overindulge. Sure, you can have an extra piece of cake or one extra drink more than you might usually enjoy, but that shouldn't open the floodgates to eat the remaining half of the cake or finish off a half-bottle of Jack Daniels on your own. In the same way, even buying presents for your kids can be taken to an unhealthy extreme ("always leave them wanting more"). Celebrate, but not to the point of excess.
Feeling overwhelmed by too much to do and too little time to do it? Schedule it all out right now on your favorite calendar or planner. Then stick to it. Too many people get into trouble accepting last-minute invitations, or by trying to accommodate a last-minute visit with someone they hadn't planned on seeing. If your schedule allows for it, fine, but if not, you'll know in an instant.
We're all human (yes, you too!), and we humans get ourselves into more trouble than you know because we simply don't know when to say, "Thank you, but no." I suspect it's tied closely to guilt and not taking time for ourselves, but at some point, the sooner we learn that it's okay to say "no," the sooner we'll feel less stress and anxiety. You can't do everything. Ask for help from your significant other, children, friends or family when you need it. Be direct and honest with your requests, and don't expect others to read your mind. For instance, if you decorate the tree every year, but this year find you won't have the time, ask someone to do it for you (don't just assume people will see the bare tree and offer their help). Don't stop at a single request if you need help with a dozen different things, either.
Most of us love most of our relatives and families, but even then, there can be old arguments and wounds that seem to magically re-open at about this same time every year. We get into disagreements or sometimes full-fledged arguments with others we care about. We often find ourselves regressing to old familiar reactions and behaviors during holiday gatherings. In the spirit of the giving season, give something that is priceless -- your compassion and forgiveness (even if only temporary) to those in your life you feel have wronged you in some way. Give the gift of disengagement from others who would pick a fight -- you'll be the better person for it.