8 Simple Ways to Beat Holiday Stress

Between shopping, meal planning and worrying about finances, the “most wonderful time of the year” can also be the most stressful. Release some of that seasonal tension with these strategies for relieving holiday stress.

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Family making snowman
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1. Get Outside and Exercise

Getting physical activity as a family is a great way to establish healthy habits with your kids, and to spend shared time celebrating together. A short walk, caroling as you go, counts. And even if it’s too chilly to go outside, follow along with some exercise or yoga DVDs. Your body will thank you with the feel-good endorphins that follow any solid workout.

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Shopping online with credit card
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2. Shop Online

Want to skip traffic, crowds, and the time suck that is holiday shopping in stores? Just click it away. Shopping online allows you to easily compare prices. Gifts can be delivered, often wrapped, to your door. When you absolutely have to brave the stores, have a list ready, so you’ll spend less time browsing.

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Family dinner at Christmas
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3. Manage Your Relatives

Tension from contentious relatives increases the stress level of any holiday gathering. But you can minimize the challenges posed by these toxic extended-family interactions. Here’s how:

1. Limit your time at stressful family events.
Show up early, then leave within an hour after dessert.
2. Stay in a hotel. Avoid conflict and have a quiet space to yourself.
3. Celebrate with relatives you adore. Don’t feel like you have to spend an equal amount of time with annoying relatives.
4. Volunteer at a shelter or food bank. Doing good -and feeling good! -will make it easier to ignore any family negativity.

Got relatives who love to turn friendly discussion into a fiery political debate? Check out more tips on How to Avoid World War Three at Your Holiday Dinner!

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Children making dessert
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4. Host a Potluck Feast

The host makes the main roast, but guests are enlisted for side dishes and dessert. Establish a theme, so people can plan complementary dishes, for example, “Traditional Christmas” or “Asian-fusion seafood celebration,” then email a list of the dishes required. Stick to generic terms, like “Side Veg #1,” “Side Veg #2,” “Soup,” “Dessert #1,” etc., so guests can “reply all” with what they’re bringing.

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Woman walking dog outdoors in winter
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5. Delegate!

Don’t go it alone when it comes time for holiday chores. Without a lot of additional supervision, appropriately aged schoolchildren can tackle basic household tasks such as walking the dog, taking out the trash or setting and clearing the table.

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Woman with shopping bags
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6. Stay on Budget

Start budgeting by factoring in all holiday-related purchases, including cards, postage, decorations, new clothes, food, entertaining, wrapping paper, charitable donations, and travel. How much should you spend during the holiday season? A good rule of thumb is 1.5 per cent your annual income.

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Woman meditating to deal with holiday stress
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7. Tap Into Relaxation Techniques

Hectic days and nights call for fast coping strategies. Some easy relaxation techniques include deep breathing and yoga. Or lock yourself into a private room, blast one of your iPod workout playlists, and dance away the stress!

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8. Stay Organized

Take a moment each night to review and update the next day’s to-do list, keeping each item reasonable and specific. Use a family whiteboard or calendar to stay on top of family activities and commitments. Then, make a point of eating breakfast as a family to establish any shared tasks for the day.

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