STRESS!!! Yes, the silly season is upon us – a time of year that’s known for its busy nature that can lead to quite a lot of stress.  After all, you likely have several invitations to gatherings collecting on your counter, a long list of people you need to send Christmas cards to, and the daunting task of braving the shopping mall crowds to find the gifts for your loved ones.  All of this, on top of your normal everyday life. It can be overwhelming, to say the least.

I wanted to share with you some of my personal favourite ways to navigate this busy, stressful time of year and make this season a lot more enjoyable, less stressful and a time you will remember with fond memories.

These secret weapons of mine include…

Get organised

Grab yourself a notepad and write down all the things that you need to get done ahead of time, then break it all down.

Tackle anything you can well ahead of time so you aren’t left scrambling at the last minute. Better to start early. You don’t want to be one of the ones out doing a panic shop on Christmas Eve and ending up cooking or wrapping presents at midnight.

Grab yourself a pretty notebook and get organised, your holiday season will go much smoother!

Think about what you are going to need ahead of time, do you need to do food prep on Christmas Eve? Buy the supplies or order a grocery delivery a couple of days beforehand and chop and prep what you can to minimize your workload on the day.

Buy and then immediately wrap all presents as you bring them home (or have the store wrap them). Do anything and everything you can to save yourself time.

Don’t take on too much

Just because you have been invited to several events doesn’t mean you HAVE to go to all of them. If any of them feel like they are too much, or you really don’t want to go, give those events a miss.

Similarly, if Christmas is at your house, you don’t have to do all the work. Ask for help. Our family rotates who hosts Christmas day each year and we share the load, one cooks Turkey, another buys the ham, another the crackers, host typically does the veggies etc, you get the idea.

Also, if it is at your house, only do a surface clean – no sense wearing yourself out doing housework the day before when your guests will only see it clean for 2 minutes before it gets messed up again! Really, let perfection go and you will be much happier.

Do the bare minimum on things like cleaning, no one will notice and you’ll just have to do it again anyway!

Put forth great effort to be present.

It can be difficult, I understand.  It’s almost a reflex to pick up our phones and scroll through Facebook or our email when we have a free moment – do you do the same? Even so, it seems a bit rough when all you did was pop quickly to the toilet and, upon your return, your companion is already on their phone!

One way I like to dodge this is to leave my electronics in another room.  Don’t even allow yourself the temptation to pick up your phone and disengage from communicating with your gathered love ones.

When I’m feeling particularly scatter-brained, what really helps ground me is focusing on my senses.  What do I smell?  What do I hear?  What do I feel?  Stopping and thinking through what’s going on around you at that very moment really brings you into the present moment unlike anything else.

It’s a wonderful tool to use to dial in and be present – and is a great tool to use year-round, not just during the holidays!

Give up those expectations.

A lot of the stress we put on ourselves this season lies in the notion that we expect things to be perfect. That’d be lovely, of course – but putting your entire extended family in one house is bound to have something go awry!  Therefore, dropping the expectations of perfection will allow you to be prepared for when something may spring up.

There is a joy to be found in each situation, so even when things don’t go exactly as planned – spend your energy finding gratitude in your circumstances and enjoying as much of your time as you possibly can.  Tis the season!

Find time to move.

It’s incredibly important to keep movement in your schedule, no matter how busy you may feel.  Even if it’s just a brisk walk after lunch or dinner – make it a habit to don those sneakers to go for a walk alone to clear your mind, or with someone you enjoy being around (got a dog? doggie dearest will love you even more!).

Spending time with animals has been shown to relax us

Be sure that you are getting your time outside in nature, breathing in fresh air, while burning off some calories and keeping your heart rate up.

What are your favourite ways to get some movement in during the warmer months? Presently, my favourite way is nicer is interval running, then when it properly summer it is swimming, but in November it is still a tad cool here in Tasmania for that!

Ensure adequate rest.

Protect your sleep. Not being well rested is one of the biggest things that impedes our ability to cope with life and feel happy while we do it. Also, make sure that you take time for relaxation.

Take a little time out to read a book or watch a movie, I know it can feel like wasting time when you have so much to do, but it is really important to take breaks and rest. When you do, you come back stronger and tackle all the things you need to do much more easily.

Here’s to you having a happy and (mostly) relaxing holiday season!

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