reduce stress during the holidays

Tis’ the season to feel jolly, but how come we often feel so stressed?! What is meant to be the most magical time of the year, can often feel pretty overwhelming and at times not so magical. So how can we reduce our holiday stress so that we can enjoy the magic of the season? The simple answer is that we need to embrace the present moment more and not focus on the past and future. In other words, we need to live in the here and now and not dwell on what we didn’t do or what we still need to do.

How to reduce stress during the holidays.  Image of pine cones, twine and simple white wrapped presents

5 Tips to Reduce Holiday Stress

Focus on the Present Moment

During the holidays, we tend to get so wrapped up in everything we need to do, that we forget to focus on the present moment. In a world we’re we value a go, go, go mindset it is extremely easy to find yourself feeling stressed out and overwhelmed! However, we are only as good as our health. In other words, we can only “go, go, go” when we are both physically and mentally healthy. That means, our mental health needs to be a priority. The best way to feel less stressed and overwhelmed is to start with being mindful. Incorporating mindfulness into your already busy day may seem impossible, but I promise you that it is quite the opposite. When you give yourself a mindful break you will actually be more productive and way less stressed!

I am sure you have heard the term “mindfulness” before this post. It is a hyped up buzz word right now, but truth be told, it has been around for a long time. Mindfulness is simply being in the here and now. I love this visualization, picture your mind completely full with thinking of tasks you need to do, things you need to say, all of your worries, etc, etc, etc… Now picture your mind only focusing on ONE thing….simply being present in your current task. That is mindfulness. It allows you to take a deep breath and enjoy the simple things. Maybe for example, when you are holiday baking…you will take a moment to just enjoy the simple act of your hands in flour and focus your attention on each baking step. Savor the moment and recharge.

Create a To Do List

Making a to-do list helps you to get the thoughts out of your head. Do you ever find yourself feeling mentally drained? Do you forget your thoughts and what you need to-do? Many of the reasons for that, is we have too much in our minds. We create “mental” to do lists, but if you are like me, you move on to another task and forget what you needed to remember or do.

Holiday to do list

Writing down your thoughts and tasks is one of the most important steps in staying less stressed. Not only will you have a list to refer back to, but you have now given your mind the ability to focus on the here and now. We are unable to enjoy simple parts of our day if we are trying to mentally remember all of our thoughts.

Here, try this. Picture your mind completely full with everything on your “mental” to-do list. Are you able to really focus on your task at hand and be mindful and present? Chances are no and you probably do not even know how much you are really missing.

So this holiday season, begin your days with simple “to do” lists. This act of writing down all of your thoughts and tasks, will allow you to be more present and not so focused on what you need to do or forgot to do.

Make Less from Scratch

It’s ok to do less. Make simple recipes, instead of recipes that take all day to prepare and cook. I love any recipe that takes less than 5 minutes to prep, but looks and tastes like it took you way longer! My baked brie recipe is the perfect example of making less from scratch, but not losing any of the flavor or presentation. For my easy baked brie with jam recipe, you simply only need 3 ingredients and less than 20 minutes. Check out the recipe here.

Pre-made gingerbread houses are another perfect example of ways you can make less, but still have all of the holiday fun. I bought pre-made gingerbread houses and all I had to do was assemble and the kids decorated. That’s it! No hours of baking, but yet the kids got to do what they love best…decorating! This took so much stress off of me and gave more more time to focus on the simple pleasure of watching my kids have fun.

The most important part of the holidays, is enjoying all of the little moments in between. If you are too busy focusing on making every cookie and recipe from scratch, you will overburden yourself unnecessarily.

Simple Holiday Crafts

Holiday crafts do not need to take hours to prepare or make. Actually some of the prettiest crafts are the simplest. One of my most favorite holiday craft to make is cinnamon applesauce homemade ornaments. They literally require only 3 ingredients! For the recipe click here.

Another great activity that will keep your kids occupied is holiday coloring sheets. Sometimes, part of my stress comes from not being able to get anything accomplished because I am entertaining my kids. One way to reduce my stress and to free up some time, is to keep the kids busy with a “parent-free” craft. Holiday coloring sheets are perfect, because they require no prep and very little clean up (if any). Here are some great free holiday coloring sheets from crayola. And while we are still speaking of coloring, another great holiday craft is painting or decorating holiday cookies. You can either buy pre-bought cookie decorating kits or simply make your own sugar cookies and then have fun decorating! This is one of my children’s favorite holiday craft activities and it is so simple, but tons of fun!

BONUS: For affordable and kid friendly holiday crafts, check out your local dollar store. You would be surprised at how many holiday craft kits they have and that cost less than a few dollars!

Wrap as you Buy

One of the things that overwhelms me the most during the holidays is last minute wrapping! I have discovered that I am so much less stressed, if I take the time to wrap as I go. In other words, as you begin to buy presents for the holiday season, take a few extra minutes once you receive the item, to wrap it and then store it. Instead of spending hours one day wrapping, you will only spend a few minutes a day wrapping. This will give you more time to focus on other holiday tasks and not stress wrapping last minute. Go on, give it a try!

Wrap as you go with image of wrapped presents

It’s Ok to Say NO

One of the best forms of self care is learning to say no. One of the major reasons the holidays can feel so stressful is that we pile too many requirements into our days. There is a constant feeling of not having enough time. So why add on to your already busy schedule with tasks that you wish you said no to. Simply say no in the first place and learn to only say yes to the really important requests.

It's ok to say no, image of "No" written on brown construction paper.

If you are a people pleaser like me, saying no can be really hard! However, the more you pile on your plate just to please others, the more stressed and overwhelmed YOU are! Learn to say no to some things and yes to the things that really matter. In order to feel more relaxed, it is essential that you discover ways to simply say no.

Check out these simple tips on how and when to say no and I promise you that you will thank yourself!

Tips to Reduce your Holiday Stress

  • Stay in the Present Moment
  • Make a To Do List
  • Make Less from Scratch
  • Simple Holiday Crafts
  • Wrap as you go
  • Learn to say NO

simplycandice

I am a wife, mom to three incredible kids and a full-time school counselor. My intention every day is to live a simple, balanced life. I hope you will join me in discovering together how to live more simply in the present, mindful moment, all while sharing simple home decor ideas, easy semi-homemade recipes, mindfulness tips and fun family adventures!

4 Comments

  1. Love the idea of making less from scratch. Sometimes we feel like we have to do it all at Christmas but is not true. Thanks for this post x

    1. So agree! It really takes a lot of pressure off. Thank you for your reading!

  2. Saying no is my new favorite thing. It has helped me cope with stress throughout the year and to not add on anymore that I know I personally can’t handle. Great post.

    1. Thank you!! It is amazing how much we unnecessarily place on ourselves and learning to say no is so liberating

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