One of the best ways to avoid holiday stress is to redefine what you really value about how you choose to celebrate the holiday. Take the time to ask yourself these ten questions. In addition, consider asking the same questions to your kids. With everyone's input, you should be able to focus on those activities that matter most to you this holiday season, and drop the ones that simply aren't as important to you this year.
1. What do you love most about the holiday season?What comes to mind right away? Maybe curling up by the tree with a steaming cup of hot cocoa? Carefully choosing gifts for your kids and then watching them open each one? Perhaps it's having the opportunity to help others or teach your children about the true meaning of Christmas.
2. What seasonal activities put you in a "holiday mood"?What signals the start of the holiday season for you? Is is shopping on "Black Friday"? Hearing your favorite Christmas carols on the radio? Wrapping gifts? Ice skating with the kids? Decide what matters to you as a personal "kick-off" to the season.
3. What activities are absolutely necessary for your holidays to feel complete?These are the must-have items on your list of holiday celebrations. Perhaps it's decorating Christmas cookies as a family or attending the children's service at your local church. Think of the things that really symbolize the meaning of the holiday for you personally.
4. List the traditions which, if skipped, would not even be missed this year.
Be honest here. What could you live without? Perhaps it's hanging the outdoor Christmas lights, or participating in an annual "cookie exchange" party. Determine which events really aren't important to you, and cut your holiday stress by skipping them altogether.
5. Which traditions create a high level of stress for you?
Reduce your holiday stress by modifying or eliminating these traditions. For example, if you love having a Christmas tree, but really don't enjoy putting it up. Consider getting a smaller tree or purchasing an inexpensive pre-lit Christmas tree. Or if you love sending gifts to your extended family, but find the chore exhausting, consider sending carefully chosen gift cards instead.
6. What is something new that you'd like to include in your holiday celebration?Think of a few things you've never done, but would like to try. Perhaps you'd really like to attend midnight services on Christmas Eve or begin a new tradition of taking the kids on an annual driving tour of the holiday lights in your town.
7. What is something that you'd prefer to put "on hold" for this year?
Maybe you enjoy baking three varieties of Christmas cookies, but just don't have the energy to do it this year. Or perhaps you need to take a break from planning the annual holiday party at work. Cut holiday stress by giving yourself permission to let go of a few traditions you don't feel up to this year.
8. How do you plan to reach out and help others this year, if at all?Do you want to get the kids involved in giving this year? If so, what charities would you like to become involved with? Talk with the kids about what they feel passionate about, and look for ways to contribute by sharing your time or financial resources.
9. How do you plan to incorporate your faith in this year's holiday celebrations?For many people, the winter holidays present an opportunity to return to or seek out their true faith. If this is something you wish to incorporate in your holiday celebration, what activities would be meaningful for you?
10. How will you stay focused on what really matters this holiday season?
It's so easy to get caught up in the business and commercialism of the holiday season. Eliminate unnecessary holiday stress by deciding ahead of time how you will work with your kids to be intentionally focused on what matters most to you this year.