10 Ways to Banish Holiday Stress
It's almost here...the most wonderful time of the year! So if everyone is ho ho ho-ing...why do you feel so incredibly stressed out?
The holidays are stressful for a lot of reasons, ranging from finances to additional social and family obligations. The great news is that, short of opting out and Scrooge-ing it, there are lots of simple ways to restore tidings of comfort and joy to your over-stretched, overspent holidays. Here are my favourites. I'm especially a master at #2, #6 and #4 :)
10 tips for a calm, happy and meaningful holiday
1. Plan your budget in advance. I am convinced the reason most people don't do this is because they either plan a really rigid dollar amount that they can't possibly stick to, or go to the other extreme of just buying until the money (or credit) runs out. The real solution lies somewhere in the middle, with a little flex room for extra gifts and self-care.
2. Save holiday lists. If you have a holiday list from the year before with people's names and what you bought them, it makes it a lot easier to remember whether you're repeating a gift for Great-Aunt Lucie when you buy her a jar of lavender bath salts. Of course, lists are fluid things, but it's a lot easier to add and delete names and information than to remember all the teachers, extended family and friends that you want to buy for (if you roll like that).
3. Pare down the list. Do you really need to give that random UPS guy a Christmas present? Would a card or even a smile, do just fine? Make a decision and stick to it; it's only for one year. You don't have to become the person that never, ever gives presents; just experiment with scaling down a bit and see how it goes.
4. Make it personal. If you DO have a zillion friends, colleagues and acquaintances you always buy for, try doing something personal like baking cookies and putting them in festive tins, or making your own bath salts in different scents and packaging them in little cloth bags. No one will mind that you 'mass produced' such a wonderful holiday gift. The key here is not to add more stress by doing something complicated or new, like making chocolate dipped candied oranges for 50 while the baby cries in his crib (done that); do something you're really good at, or that you really enjoy, or something dead easy, or preferably all three. 5. Don't be afraid to re-gift. This is another way to make sure you always have a ready supply of hostess-type small gifts on hand: If you received a gorgeous gadget that you already have, don't be so quick to stand in an interminable Boxing Day exchange/return lineup; just keep it and regift later to someone who will never talk to the original gifter.
6. Shop early. Seen a unique item at a craft market in the summer? Snap it up and set it aside. Attended a crazy designer purse sale on Orfus Road in September? Buy a number of chic wallets or coin purses and set them aside. You never know when you will be called upon to produce an extra gift for a Secret Santa.
7. Curtail the activities. Of course there are so many things you want to get done, and it's easy to over-book events and activities. Don't feel obliged to accept every invitation! If it's last-minute, inconvenient or not something you're really interested in, feel free to say 'next time' and just stick to your established traditions.
8. Rest. The holidays may be the only block of time off you've had all year; if you have kids, it's not even really 'time off'' in the sense that you are still run ragged. It's okay to take a hot, relaxing bath and contemplate the year past and the year ahead. In fact it's so important that Web MD even recommends soaking as a treat between crazy shopping trips and social engagements.
9. Find a friend. While all the rushing around can be super draining and stressful, conversely, having nothing to do and no one to do it with can lead to depression at this time of year. Grab another solo buddy and start your own traditions this year - lots of fun places are open during the holidays, whether it's outdoor skating or malls or movie theatres, and you don't have to make a traditional dinner - just do pizza and Netflix with friends.
10. Don't forget what it's all about. Sometimes we get distracted from the real meaning of the holiday season by all the frenetic activity. Do something nice for someone in need, attend a place of worship, or just get still and come back to your body while listening to some meditative music. There is a beautiful magic to this time of year; soak it up and enjoy it to the fullest while it lasts.
Happy Holidays from all of us at SaltZ&Co!
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