Overcome Christmas Stress

It happens every year – we try to overcome Christmas stress! No matter how hard you plan or try to stay ahead, there is always one more thing to do, one more item on the to-do list, one more project to complete…all before Christmas. How about trying something different? Enjoy the season! Yes, it can be done and I promise not to tell you to plan ahead or do more than you can handle. I know you might find it difficult to believe me, and even I thought it wasn’t possible until I gave it a try.

Overcome Christmas stress helps with planning.

Here is what I did. I made a list of what I wanted the days leading up to Christmas to look like in a “perfect world.” You know the picture-perfect, Norman Rockwell type of painting where everyone is smiling, the house is spotlessĀ and perfectly decorated, mom is holding a turkey and all the kids look happy. And, I soon realized it was unattainable. Why is it that we set out expectations so high that it is impossible? I think we have so many expectations that we fall short and then we are stressed! Stress is something we all live with however it is what we do with the stress that counts.

overcome Christmas stress

For me, the first thing was identifying the issue. Why was I stressed during the holidays and what was the *one* thing I would avoid if I could. I usually detest lists, yes — I am one of those, and yet I learned that if I made a list it helped, tremendously. So I divided things into categories.

My List to overcome Christmas stress:

To do list that could not be avoided:

  1. shopping for gifts
  2. shopping for food
  3. decorating
  4. Christmas cards
  5. Christmas photos
  6. Christmas letter
  7. baking/cooking
  8. wrapping presents

To do list that could be avoided:

  1. baking
  2. cooking everything
  3. Christmas cards + letter + photos

The one (or more) things I would avoid if I could:

  1. Christmas card letter
  2. Christmas card

Can you do it? Can you avoid the one thing (or more) that makes your Christmas stressful?

Your list may look different, but the one thing that gave me the most stress was writing the Christmas letter. It literally took me days to write, and then another few days to lay out on purchased, Christmas stationary…then years later with a Christmas graphics border on a word processing program. As my family got older and the number of children I had climbed the list seemed more and more daunting until I dreaded it. Yet, I felt guilted into it, you know…all the relatives up north are counting on receiving an update on the family happenings. However, I decided to let it go. I refused to be held under this self-imposed pressure or guilt, and I sent out cards with photos from the year as well as the most current. This year, at Thanksgiving even with my entire immediate family here, I forgot to take pictures! Again, I will let it go–even further this time! I decided that this was the perfect year to send out beautiful, Christmas cards without a family photo. Gulp!

But, I’m doing it. I’m sending out cards to the immediate family. The remaining relatives up north, my siblings, my sister-in-laws, nieces and nephews, my married daughter and family…and that is it! What a freeing thought! I won’t even let those early cards, you know the ones that show up Thanksgiving weekend ruin my peace. I will live my life as I can, for the glory of God and let all this other “stuff” that gets in the way go!

Years ago I baked for weeks giving away homemade breads, sweet rolls, pound cakes, and delicious cookies to friends and my husband’s employees. No more. I do bake but only for the family, and give homemade cookie baskets to those who arrive at our home for meals. Another hurdle overcome.

So, in a nutshell this is what I did to avoid Christmas stress:

  1. shopping for gifts
    • Most gifts I shop for online, and guess what? The deals are even better than in person.
  2. shopping for food
    • I still shop for food in person, but many swear by online services such as Amazon, or Publix (our local chain) has a website and you can pay for delivery. I’ve used this service a few times when I’ve received a coupon and it works great!
  3. decorating
    • The kids all help and we set up everything inside in one day! Score! We also add lighting timers, and remotes to turn on and off all the lights. Another score.
  4. Christmas cards
    • no picture, no letter, only a card to the immediate and extended family.
  5. Christmas photos
    • taken on Christmas eve before Mass outside of the Church
  6. Christmas letter
    • avoided!
  7. baking/cooking
    • family can bring over a side or dessert, and I only bake for the family
  8. wrapping presents
    • gift bags go a long way to ease the burden!

Check out my podcast on the topic of stress free holidays here.

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