Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa, this time of year can be stressful.  During this time, most if not all stress is caused by these three things; money, people (family and friends alike) or time. This year, you can make the holiday season less stressful by following these 5 tips:

1)    Plan Ahead: Put together a schedule for shopping, baking, decorating, parties and visiting. By putting it in writing, you can see any areas of overlap or times when you have overcommitted yourself and can move items prior to them occurring. If you are going to be cooking, baking and wrapping gifts, use a shopping list to make sure you have all ingredients and materials on hand. That will help alleviate the late night shopping trip for forgotten items.

2)    Set and Stick to a Budget: During this time of year, we have a tendency to want to do all things for all people. By putting together a budget, you can identify how much you will be spending on gifts, food, travel and other items.

3)    Be Realistic: Let’s face it; your holiday is not going to be perfect. Striving to make everything just so, just like last year or just like your neighbor’s holiday is only going to make you stressed out. Take joy in the quirks or mishaps that will occur to make this holiday season unique for you, your family and friends.

4)    Just Say “No”: It is okay to say no to additional holiday commitments. While you may think that saying yes is expected or the “right thing to do”, it can end up making you feel overwhelmed and in some cases downright resentful.  By following tip #1, you should be able to easily and quickly identify your prior commitments before taking on more.

5)    Plan some “Me Time”: Whether it is a 15 minute walk around the neighborhood, or a full day at the spa, make sure and schedule in some time for yourself. This will give you the opportunity to recharge, regroup and re-energize.  Afterwards, you will be ready to face whatever challenges lie ahead.

In some cases even following these tips will not alleviate the stress and anxiety that can occur during the holidays. If that happens to you, don’t hesitate to reach out for some professional help.  By keeping these feelings inside, you are only hurting yourself and those that care about you.

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Marta Rocha

About the Author: Marta Rocha is a Mental Health Counselor. Marta is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish and English. Marta Rocha is specialized in the areas of Marriage Counseling, Family Issues, Stress Management, Leadership Training, Anxiety, Depression, Sports Psychology, Grief, and Substance Abuse & Addictions. Marta Rocha has 12 years of experience in sales & marketing, advertising, promotions, management, and professional development. Her professional affiliations are with the American Counseling Association, and the American Association of Christian Counselors.

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