The Most Stressful Time of the Year

The shining strung lights of the “most wonderful time of the year” often blind peoples’ perceptions of just how stressful the winter holiday season can be. Between cold weather, driving in snow, finding the “perfect” gift, family visits, and holiday meals to prepare— life can feel like it’s snowballing out of control faster than you can say “Merry Christmas.” Here are a few tips on how to stay on top of your life this winter and enjoy this time to the fullest:

1. Work hard, early.

The key to enjoying your holiday is getting everything done in advance. Scrambling last minute in the stores or arranging travel plans the night before you leave breeds stress. Picking up your family’s gifts weeks before the big day and gradually limits last minute store trips and gives you time to find that “perfect” gift. Pick a time and do all your Christmas cards at once— then they’re done. Getting work done that hangs over your head near big holiday events allows you to enjoy time off, relax, and be present in the moment with people you love— rather than thinking about when you’re getting home to finish what you still have left to do. Make your to-do list and check it twice, early. Knock out your tasks before the big days and you’ll be happy you did.

2. Take advantage of things that will make your life easier.

As opposed to paying full price for every gift— be on the look out for sales and then grab them by the reindeer horns when you see them. If Black Friday shopping wasn’t your thing, keep an eye out for online deals or the diamond in the rough in the clearance section. If family members ask you to bring a dish, stray away from choosing the most intricate dish you can think of. Although you think your family will be impressed by your perfectly roasted lamb, they’ll still love you just as much if you bring the frosted sugar cookies. Work smarter, not harder.

3. Be disciplined through calculated indulging.

If you don’t want to make your New Years resolution “lose a lot of weight,” being disciplined during the holidays is the key to success. Don’t not take part in eating cookies with the people you love, because that’s just plain unreasonable. But— plan for it and don’t be excessive. Mentally give yourself a limit of the amount of desserts you will take in before hand, and try your very hardest to stick to this plan. If you’re eating appetizers just to eat them, chew gum instead. Saving calories on dips and chips can allow you to eat a hardier dinner without feeling guilty. Also, if you know you have a big family dinner, go to the gym that morning before-hand. If you can stick to a flexible, yet relatively disciplined eating and workout schedule during the holidays, the rest of the year will seem easy.

4. Be present in the moment.

The final way to de-stress this holiday season is to know that everything will get done and work out in the end. Don’t get too caught up in the material things— the most important part of a great successful holiday is spending valuable time with the people you love, enjoying the moments, and cherishing it all. Don’t think too much about all you have to catch up on or that you didn't get the socks your mom wanted in the right color— focus on being in that moment and how special it is to be with the people you love.