How to Stay Relaxed and Avoid Stress This Holiday Season

A friend and I made a list of ways to make the holidays more enjoyable. I think it’s a pretty good list of how to experience the next couple of “big days” as relaxing and joyful. For most of us, I think we’re looking at...

1) lowering expectations. Instead of trying to “be happy:” let’s try to “be well.”
2) saying NO more often. “I so appreciate the invitation but I just can’t swing it.” Spreading myself too thin is not a gift to anyone. 
3) pausing a few hours before saying YES. “Can I get back to you before I commit?” 4) attending events for a shorter period of time “We can’t be there for — but how about we swing by for dessert?”
5) It’s okay to NOT bring anything. If anything, there’s too much food/stuff/waste. 6) Cut the gift list in half. Spend less.
7) Aim high, shoot low. At some point, accept that the extra errand or the perfect finishing touch will just not happen. Let it go. 8) Maturity allows us to tolerate others displeasure. Don’t allow guilt to rule your life. Remember, internal stress releases cortisol, which holds onto fat. 9) Sometimes we cancel. “I’m so sorry to have to do this but for the sake of my sanity, I need to cancel. I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew and I’m learning how to make better decisions for myself and the needs of my family.”
10) Renegotiate. “I cannot bring a turkey but I am happy to bring rolls. Will that work?” 11) Saying yes, or agreeing to do more than we can handle, often leads to resentment. We have no one but ourselves to blame. Change the pattern. 12) Reiterate your personal commitment to enjoy the holiday season. Christmas really is just another day. It’s the beliefs, our day-to-day behaviors... that is the real spirit.