Create a Very Merry Holiday Season

4 Tips for a Stress-free Holiday Season

Protect Your Energy During the Holidays. Vstock LLC/Getty Images

You can thrive, not just survive, and create a wonderful holiday season this year. You just need to do four things:

  • keep your expectations rational,
  • take care of yourself,
  • take control of your time and limit your commitments, and
  • embrace your family and friends.

These tips will help you reduce stress, relax, and breeze through the holiday season feeling grounded and in control.

Keep Your Holiday Season Expectations Rational

The most important contributors to a happy holiday season are the expectations you create in your own mind about the holidays.

You can't make them perfect - people get sick, recipes don't always turn out as expected, and family members don't always get along.

Coworkers aren't always kind to each other and the new work program you introduced is not going to make everyone happy. You'll be healthier and happier if you keep your expectations reasonable.

You don't have to have the perfect party, perfectly behaved children, or the most beautifully decorated home. Give yourself a break. You'll be happy you did.

Take Care of Yourself During the Holiday Season

Taking care of your physical and mental health is the single most important aspect of creating holiday health and happiness. Start now so you are ready to go when the holiday season arrives.

  • Eat a healthy diet that gives you most of your calories from vegetables, fruits, grains, and other delicious low-fat ingredients. Why? The point is to feel better about yourself. If you eat better, you feel better. You have more energy. You look better and consequently, your self-esteem is enhanced.

    The higher your self-esteem, the more confident and successful you are. (Get the cycle?) Trying to diet during the holiday season will make you feel like a failure and ruin the festive nature of celebrations and parties.
  • Exercise regularly. A supervisor at one of my client companies walked up to me with a big smile the other day. I asked, "Where's your normal stress? I haven't seen you smiling in a while. What changed?" He responded that he has started running during his lunch hour and it is helping him keep work happenings in perspective.

    Exercise also helps you control weight. Take a look at the article, by About's Paige Waehner for excellent exercise ideas. Just getting started? About's Wendy Bumgardner offers the .

    Take Control of Your Time and Limit Commitments

    Why does every new program or process at work have to start on January 1? With this starting date in mind, your holiday season will always be a nightmare of over-commitment. You are already rushing with the normal holiday happenings. Why roll out a new process to complicate the holiday season and raise your level of work-related stress?

    You are in charge of the number of commitments you make. You don't have to hold a holiday party at your home. You can schedule a party in February instead; your friends will appreciate your timing, too.

    At Techsmith Corporation, holiday party schedules kept large numbers of employees from attending the annual holiday party. So, the planners changed the concept. The annual company holiday event is now the company birthday party in February.

    You don't have to attend every event just because you received an invitation, just as you don't need to answer your cell phone just because it is ringing.

    Even better, add a touch of joy to the season by making too many commitments, failing to keep them, and then experiencing guilt and stress over your procrastination and failure.

    Take Time to Enjoy Family and Friends: Establish Traditions

    You have one life with a limited amount of time. Spend the time of your life with people you love. Make sure you don't spend the holidays trying to change your siblings or redressing grievances from years past. Share memories and laughter.

    Take time for personal reflection. Establish traditions at home and at work. Traditions change as the people in your life die; make sure you establish new traditions with the family members who remain.

    Looking for a few ideas for work traditions?

    • One of my client companies sponsors an annual window dressing contest with teams of people competing for the "best-dressed window" prize.
    • Another takes their employees to a restaurant for a holiday luncheon.
    • Companies sponsor Halloween costume contests.
    • Others compete for prizes for the most attractively decorated work stations or offices.
    • Some work groups hold "Secret Santa" gift exchanges and coworkers try to guess who drew each other's name.
    • Others adopt a group philanthropy project for the holiday season.

    You are limited in establishing organization traditions only by your imagination. No matter what holidays you celebrate, these tips will make them happier, healthier, and more fun. Please accept my wishes for a happy holiday season for you and yours.

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