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Four Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

A recent national survey, conducted by the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (FAAR), found that 51% of parents with children eighteen years old and younger, report stress due to the holidays.  Let’s think about that for a moment, over half of American parents endure stress over the holidays.  This statistic saddens me, as the holidays are meant to be a period of together time, when family and friends slow the pace of their lives and make it a point to get together and enjoy each other.  This year, FAAR wants you to #HolidayResponsibly, so here are four tips to help you manage your holiday stress levels:

LOWER EXPECTATIONS AND OBLIGATIONS

School functions, work parties, family and friend functions; all of these items add to an already long list of holiday ‘to-dos’.  An easy way to manage a full calendar is to thoughtfully lower your holiday expectations and obligations.

So many of us have a tendency to overbook over the holidays, creating unnecessary stress.  It can be difficult to manage holiday school functions and work parties, but prioritizing your commitments can help relieve the load.  If your child is expected to bring a dish for a school function, does it really need to be hand crafted by you?  Restaurants and grocery stores can be huge time [and stress] savers, offering custom trays for get-togethers. 

If your party calendar is fully booked, with more invites on the way, why not suggest meeting friends at a restaurant after the holidays to catch up and enjoy each other’s company?  My husband’s birthday falls just a week before Christmas, and we found ourselves making out-of-state trips two weeks in a row; once our son was born,  holiday travel became unmanageable.  Instead of rushing around to visit both sides of the family on Christmas, we’ve either celebrated Christmas at my husband’s birthday get together, or hosted a family event after Christmas.  I find that I don’t feel as harried and am able to fully enjoy my time with family.

KEEP FOCUS ON FAMILY/FRIEND TOGETHER TIME

If you’re hosting a holiday get-together, why not make it a potluck event?  With shared cooking, you’ll have more time to enjoy your guests, rather than rushing around in preparation.  Make your potluck a fun event, with guests voting on the best dish!

Do you have a double-digit holiday shopping list?  56% of Americans report that finances/money causes holiday-related stress (FAAR 2014).  With finances topping the list of holiday stressors, managing your holiday budget can become a daunting task.  I’m fortunate enough to have a small extended family, making planning and purchasing gifts a relatively simple endeavor (and easier on my wallet).  I have several friends, with large extended families, who have switched to drawing names to make gift giving easier.  I remember the days when my best friend had a shopping list for over thirty family members; she often resorted to frantic and impulsive purchases, dreading the credit card statements in the months to follow.  Drawing names and playing ‘secret Santa’ helped to ease her holiday shopping stress and the associated financial burden.

REMOVE ALCOHOL FROM THE HOLIDAY EQUATION

60% of Americans report that alcohol is part of their family traditions around the holidays .  Over half of Americans involve alcohol in their holiday celebrations, with 32% of Americans reporting that they “rarely or never plan ahead for transportation when hosting/attending parties”.  And perhaps the most alarming statistic of all is that 26% of parents of children 18 or younger reported driving a vehicle, on at least one occasion in the past twelve months, after drinking too much.  (FAAR 2014)

Instead of having alcohol as the focal point of family get-togethers, why not host a coffee and dessert party (making planning a bit easier and avoiding the designated driver dilemma)?  Or, scour Pinterest for amazing mocktail ideas, if drinks are the focus of your gathering; Pomegranate Julep or Spiced Hot Cider, anyone?  Better yet, stock your mocktail bar with exotic juices and ingredients and have your guests compete to create the most mouth-watering mocktail?

SCHEDULE ‘ME’ TIME

So many activities around the holidays involve other people, and more often those activities involve doing for other people; don’t forget to recharge your own batteries!  Amidst holiday parties, school functions and family get-togethers, make sure you carve out some time for yourself.  Just a half hour for a bath or a book can do wonders to reduce stress levels and take one’s mind off of holiday lists and calendars.

Simplifying your holiday celebrations can greatly reduce holiday-related stress, with many ways to simplify without cutting any corners.  In the end, quality time spent with family in friends is all that really matters.  Most importantly, please remember to celebrate the holidays responsibly, if alcohol is a part of your festivities.

Lauren is a former publishing rep-turned-WAHM and toddler wrangler. When she's not chasing her son, you can find Lauren blogging about [family] life | natural living | women's issues, sewing or knitting woolen items, or putting on her 'thinking cap' for companies as a freelance weiter, editor, & marketing consultant.

*The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org) or any Responsibility.org member.*

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