Christmas Eve is soon upon us, only four days away. I don’t mean to stress you out as I write this, not at all. You see, one of the things that I find about leading a simple lifestyle, is that it offers brilliant tools for making stressful holiday seasons less so.
Because holiday stress is in many ways us stressing out over the insignificant things that does not really matter, after all. Isn’t it? If we just realize this, we can work around it.
Here’s what you can do to make the holidays less stressful and more enjoyable.
1. Buy fewer gifts
If gift giving is something that gives you immense joy and you feel devastated parting with your long list of gift recipients, by all means, continue. But for many of us, gift giving is more a chore than a joyous activity, and most of the time people exchange gifts that the recipients don’t want or need.
To ease the burden of Christmas, agreeing with friends and family to cut down or drop all Christmas gifts, and instead make plans to hang out in the new year could be a good call.
In our house, Chris and I only give gifts to my parents (who we’re celebrating with), his parents, and his sister’s family. Chris and I don’t exchange gifts at all, and my best friend and I go out to eat together instead of exchanging physical gifts. Chris’ brother cancelled the exchange of gifts a while back, because frankly, his kids get enough presents as it is. And we’re ok with that. This way, December isn’t a stressful month in terms of gift buying. And that’s a big plus for us.
2. Make realistic plans
I don’t think I speak only for myself, when I say that December often gets filled with all sorts of ambitious plans on cookie baking, decorating, Christmas parties, Christmas markets and all the other stuff that we tend to envision as part of a picture perfect Christmas.
Planning activities is all good, but it is not harmful to take a step back and realize one’s limits. The holidays should be a pleasant time, after all, and not one where you’d risk a burn out. So, be selective with your time and resources and make room for some down time in between all the Christmas fun. You don’t have to pack your schedule to the bursting point.
3. Give yourself a break
Ok. In the beginning of December, you have it all figured out: you’ll get your Christmas gifts done early, you’ll bake and cook, and you’ll make time to go out and enjoy winter activities with your loved ones. And before you know it, it’s the middle of December and your list of stuff to do is still unfinished. What to do?
Give yourself a break. No matter how many unchecked things you have on your to-do-list, Christmas Eve (or Day) will come. Lower your shoulders, let the high expectations you have go, and know that the most important thing is to spend some quality time with your loved ones. Don’t stress the unimportant stuff.
And, if you spend your day alone, plan accordingly. Do something cozy for yourself, if it’s just some takeaway and something good to drink. But don’t worry about the picture perfect Christmas. Not many of us have them anyway (even if social media might have you fooled), and that’s ok.
Christmas will happen regardless
If you still find yourself stressed after reading this, maybe it’s a consolidation to hear that I don’t have all my Christmas presents ready yet either. Yeah, I know. Even with the limited number of gifts I’m buying. But let me tell you, one week of being out with the flu in December makes anyone fall back on their preparations, apparently. And I might give up on the whole “baking for Christmas” debacle too. I wanted to bake some gut friendly goods so badly, so that I could spend the holidays indulging to my heart’s desire. But, I realize that store-bought cookies in moderation will make a decent Christmas after all.
If I find the time this weekend, I might set aside some time to bake, but if not, I know that it doesn’t really matter.
Remember, in the middle of next week Christmas is behind us yet again. Let’s cherish it while it’s here, instead of stressing out over everything we didn’t find the time to do.
Merry Christmas! ♥︎