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Time Management Tips to Reduce Holiday Stress

Often work and family obligations can turn this festive time of year stressful. These tips can help you strike a healthy balance so you can better enjoy yourself.

Prioritize Activities

It’s important to decide what traditions offer the most positive impact. “For example, if you usually become overwhelmed by a flurry of baking, caroling, shopping, sending cards, visiting relatives and other activities that leave you exhausted by January, you may want to examine your priorities, pick a few favorite activities and really enjoy them, while skipping the rest,” according to recommendations by Verywell Mind.

In CIO, Lou Markstrom suggests making a list of everything that needs to be done. “The list should include the obvious items like parties, shopping, work, etc. and also include the other items not ordinarily found on a ‘to-do’ list (watch TV, spend time with kids, quiet time with your significant other, etc.),” he writes in “8 Time Management Tips for the Holiday Season.”

Set a Schedule

Use a time management planner and schedule your most important activities, being realistic and including driving time.

In 8 Time Management Tips for the Holiday Season CIO’s Markstrom says it is vital to “Follow the plan you just created. You’ll have those times when you ‘don’t feel like it’ but follow it anyway. Getting past that moment of not feeling like it is your doorway to a holiday season of having everything you want.”

Remember the Reason for the Season

“Some people find the holiday season stressful because it seems robbed of its authentic meaning. Instead they are awash in a culture conspiring to crassly cash in on something that once had great personal significance,” Robert Sapolsky, professor of biological sciences and neurology at Stanford University and author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: An Updated Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Disease and Coping writes in “Beating Holiday Stress.” “Take the time and effort to reaffirm what this season really means to you, whether it is about family, community, religion. Go help someone in need, to help yourself reaffirm what it is all about.”

Say “No”

People are often conditioned to believe that saying “no” reflects on them negatively and instead accept burdensome tasks and obligations when they simply don’t have the time.

“Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed,” advises the Mayo Clinic in a bulletin. “Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.”

Keep Your Healthy Habits

The Mayo Clinic cautions you to not let the holidays “become a free-for-all.” It recommends having a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.

Sleep is important too, but it’s often the first casualty when we feel pressed for time. “While letting up on a couple hours of sleep might not seem like a big deal, it can increase your chances of getting sick, cause unhealthy food cravings and take a toll on your energy levels, which is why it’s important to give your body a chance to recharge on those go-go-go holiday marathon days,” according to “14 Easy Things You Can Do to Minimize Holiday Stress.”

Just Breathe

“This sounds like a no-brainer, but sometimes we forget to take deep breaths and really give our bodies the oxygen we need,” according to Verywell Mind. “It’s great if you can take 10 minutes by yourself to do a breathing meditation, but merely stopping to take a few deep, cleansing breaths can reduce your level of negative stress in a matter of minutes, too. If you visualize that you are breathing in serenity and breathing out stress, you will find the positive effects of this exercise to be even more pronounced.”

The Mayo Clinic agrees: Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.”

Ask for Help

“Even if you feel like you have to do everything yourself, you don’t,” says Shape in “14 Easy Things You Can Do to Minimize Holiday Stress.” “Reach out to family and friends and ask for help, whether that means asking guests to bring a dish to your Christmas party or asking for a few extra days to meet a deadline at work. Take some pressure off of yourself.”

Let It Go

In addition to recognizing and eliminating the personal stress of holiday preparations and expectations of having a perfect holiday, be mindful of adjustments at work.

In “7 Time-Management Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Season,” Inc. recommends that you expect a slower pace because people are taking time off. “It may be more challenging to schedule meetings,” writes author Marissa Levin. “Rather than getting frustrated, provide multiple meeting time options, including some after the first week of the new year.”

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