Erika Fehrenbach Prell
Confession time, DreamChaser. I rarely stress during the holidays. Now, before you start hating me or calling me a liar, hear me out. I made the decision back in graduate school, which was by far the busiest time of my adult life, that the holidays would be a time of enjoyment and not added stress. I started taking intentional steps to de-stress the holidays before they even started. Now, many years later, this intentional proactive holiday de-stress approach is just what I do.
Quiz time! What is it called when it’s just something you do? You got it…a habit! I have a well-established habit of setting my holiday season up to be stress-free and, therefore, completely enjoyable. Since sharing is caring, I am going to give you 5 steps to take now, right now in the beginning of November, that will start your holiday de-stressing process. Ready? I thought so!
1. Make A List…and Check It Twice
Rather than Santa’s gift list, I mean your personal holiday must-do list. Start with items that are already scheduled such as kid’s sporting events, holiday concerts, church programs, or work events. Next, add your expected holiday traditions such as family or friend get-togethers or annual cookie baking. Finally, brainstorm holiday traditions or events you want to do like watching a holiday movie (Elf or National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, anyone?!?), seeing holiday lights, getting the Christmas tree, or decorating your house. The first time you write out this list, it is eye-opening! You can see very clearly why the holidays get stressful!
Look hard at this list. You might be taking on too much; to have the stress-free and enjoyable holiday of your dreams, you might need to cut a few items. Trust me, doing less can make your holidays better. Take all items that made the cut and rank them in priority from must-do to “if we have time”. Open the calendar app on your phone or take your paper calendar…it’s schedule time! This is the only way that any of these items will actually happen. Start by scheduling events with a known date, then, plan all the other holiday fun.
Pro Tips: Keep several days open! This allows for much-needed (and often forgotten) rest and relaxation time as well as flexibility to change your schedule around as needed. Another BIG de-stress tip is to start knocking things off that list now…who says Christmas movies are ONLY for December?!?
2. Set a Budget…and Stick To It
Having a holiday budget and STICKING TO IT is one of the best ways to de-stress during and after the holidays. Look at your anticipated expenses and estimated income. How much do you have left over at the end of the month? This, DreamChaser, is where your holiday budget is! If it is less than you expected or would like to spend, where can you tighten up on your spending? Can you start putting aside a certain amount from each paycheck? Once you know how much you have to spend, make a list of who you want to buy for with a set amount you would like to spend. Make a point to stick to your budget…trust me, this will be worth it!
3. Get Your Shop (and Wrap) On
The sooner you start, the sooner you are done…both shopping and wrapping. Once your budget is set, start shopping. There are already awesome deals available. As you get your gifts, wrap them right away (even if you don’t have a tree up yet). Getting a jump start on both of these tasks is huge for saving time, money, and stress. Just imagine how much more fun it will be to curl up with cocoa and a movie instead of fighting the holiday crowd come December 23!
4. Holiday Card Tips
Okay, if you don’t do holiday cards, skip this one and pat yourself on the back for all that time, effort, and energy you have saved. I, however, love to send and receive these babies…lol. A huge time saver is to make printable address labels; it’s a little time consuming the first time but it makes it so much easier in years to come. Order your cards early…as in right now, today, after you finish reading this. Not only will you knock out this huge project before the holidays really get rolling but you will also save money as many companies have big discounts for early shoppers.
Pro Tip: Who said it has to be a holiday card? Consider a New Year’s or Valentine’s Day card instead!
5. Set Your Boundaries
Your holidays are YOUR holidays. Before you commit to anything, remember the “Best Yes” idea. Is this something that will bring you joy or add stress to your holiday? What does your ideal holiday look like? What traditions do you love? Is it time to let some things go? Get a clear idea of what will make the holiday season stress-free, enjoyable, and memorable. Say yes to the things that make this vision happen and no to those that don’t. If this is your first time setting boundaries, it might be uncomfortable at first and you might experience push back. Stick to your guns, DreamChaser! Once a boundary is set, keep it. Guess what happens then? No one questions it in the future!
That’s it…my system for a stress-free, enjoyable holiday. Like all new things, it takes intention and determination the first time you do these steps. Trust me, you are about to experience a holiday like no other! Here’s to not only living your best life but also enjoying it!
Jackie White has been writing about life and its ups and downs for many years. With a degree in Industrial Psychology and a life-long student of personal development she is intrigued by how each individual chooses to live their life. Jackie feels strongly that truly living your best life is imperative to attaining peace and fulfillment. SoulShine was borne of her desire to inspire and teach others to live their best life. This is her mission and her dream.