Friday, November 23, 2012

CHRISTMAS...LESS STRESS AND MORE JOY

Now that Thanksgiving is over, your Christmas plans are probably in full gear! Many have already begun their shopping today on Black Friday. There are already Christmas lights up around town, some put up even before Thanksgiving. The countdown to Christmas is on!

 I look forward to Christmas! It's my favorite time of year! Celebrating the birth of Jesus, the family traditions and gatherings, colorful decorations, gift giving,  and goodwill shared! I LOVE IT ALL!

But sometimes there can be so much going on that the TRUE MEANING of Christmas, the birth of Jesus, gets lost in the hub-bub. And  we can also get so caught up in the desire to continue with ALL THE SAME TRADITIONS that the season can become a stressful one.



 So how can we celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and have a balance in our lives that allows for an enjoyable season of celebration with LESS STRESS AND MORE JOY?



 Here are  things that I've done to have LESS STRESS AND MORE JOY during this Christmas season:

1) Simplify.   Give yourself permission to eliminate one or two ( maybe even more ) of your season's activities without feeling guilty.    

       A few years ago life brought a few "wrinkles" into my life around Christmas time. Illness, work schedules, and other necessary commitments just happened to arrive at the wrong time. Something had to go. I realized I couldn't do everything I had always done for Christmas so I had to decide what to leave out and what was really important. So...  I cut down on the Christmas cards I sent out and I allowed myself not to feel guilty about it.  I purchased  home baked Christmas cookies at various sales instead of making a lot myself. ( We DID continue our family tradition of making frosted sugar cookies with the whole family, however ). SOME traditions went on as usual while others went by the wayside. It helped me focus on the MOST IMPORTANT traditions and keep THOSE. I'm back to making cookies and treats now but have eliminated other unnecessary things.


 2)  Make a list of those activities that you're going to continue and assign them a date on your calendar, making sure you are "in the moment" and enjoying that activity at the time.

          Making a list and then writing the activities in my calendar helped me not to think about them until the date arrived. Then I could enjoy them, living in the moment, and not having to think about the other activities. I focused on one thing at a time. Planning was essential but it helped me focus on the moment and saved me a lot of stress.




3) Get enough rest.

                 One thing I need to feel my best is plenty of rest. I made sure I got enough sleep and took a few "power naps" when I could.



4)  Solicit help by delegating where possible and combining activities.

                My husband stepped up to help out with Christmas shopping. Because our kids and grandkids have lists of things to pick from ( and they're very specific ) I was able to turn over some of this to my husband.   He even ended up enjoying it and now helps all the time. He also did some online ordering from home. An added bonus!  My daughter also helped with an afternoon of gift wrapping. 

                    You can also COMBINE activities. Years ago we combined a family day together with our cookie baking. We accomplish the baking along with  a fun family time together. The grandkids now also come over for hot chocolate and help us decorate the Christmas tree. With everyone helping it takes under an hour to decorate the two trees.





5)  Make sure you have a budget and stick to it.

              Nothing adds more stress than overspending and it's so easy to do at Christmas time.  Every year now after Christmas is over I save a certain amount of money in a Christmas account. When Christmas arrives I have the money to pay cash for everything, including the tree. I also found great sales like the day after Thanksgiving where I can pick up nice poinsettias for 99 cents each at Home Depot and I give those to people I'd like to give a little gift to.  I also order  Jacquie Lawson  online advent calendars for $2.00 each to give to the little ones in the family. I can order them online and the kids can have fun all through December. I even enjoy them myself!

If you haven't started saving for Christmas and are short on cash, make sure you budget according to the money you have. You can always come up with some FREE things like making your own gift coupons.  Are your adult children busy working full time? You can give them gift coupons for monthly home baked treats for the family or a  whole weekend without the kids while you babysit. Remember, it really IS the thought that counts.

 If you're a young parent, remember that you don't have to overdue it with the presents for the kids. Keep track of the sales and cut down on what you buy.  Kids get overwhelmed when there is too much anyway. Make your family time together special and keep the focus on that. Also have your children make gift coupons for each other. Come up with creative things that they can do for one another.  Photo gifts are inexpensive and special gifts to give as well.

The more you stay focused on the REAL MEANING  of Christmas instead of  just gifts, the better.



6) Take time daily to read a Christmas devotional.

Stay focused on what you're celebrating, and remember to count your blessings! If you have young children, you can make this a comforting bedtime family tradition. But it's good to have your own quiet time for this, even if you have to get up just a wee bit earlier to do it.

The more I take time to focus my thoughts on Jesus, the less stressed I am. So it's even MORE essential during this busiest of seasons.


7) Simplify your decorating.

             Another time and money saver is to simplify your decor. Sometimes less is more. You don't have to put up everything you have every year. You can also save money by using natural branches and other things you find outside.


If you have more ideas on how to have less stress this Christmas season while enjoying it more, I'd love to hear them. If you have inexpensive gift ideas I'd love to hear about those as well. I'll compile them and make an e-book out of them.

The photos shown here came from PINTEREST. To see more ideas  on having less stress and more joy during the season follow my board on CHRISTMAS... LESS STRESS, MORE JOY.

COMING IN 2013: "Live Your Dream Life NOW" workshop. Sign up begins next week!





      

       

5 comments:

  1. Very good advice! We've been working towards simplifying over the last few years and I feel I've done a pretty good job. The stress can be awful with trying to get everything done and it never really happens anyway. Simplify!! Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Ah stress... don't even get me started lol All great ideas to take to heart!
    big hugs,
    Cheryl

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  3. This is a great list (I can vouch for what you say about relaxing about events because they're on the calendar)and I want to come back and read it all more carefully when things are calmer at home! (Yes, I think they will get calmer on Monday..?) Thank you for your interest in the Pause in Advent - it will be great to have you involved this year.

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  4. Hi Sandy~
    This is such a great post! You are so right on! I was thinking today how I allow Christ to get lost in all of the hubbub. I want to do it different. We have cut down on what we purchase and I find that it is still good and we aren't so stressed due to finances. That is a blessing in itself. Thank you for a great post. I love that quote. Did you find it pinterest? =0) I just noticed that you are from Minnesota. Did you ever see the movie "New in Town"? It was made there and so darling.
    blessings!

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  5. absolutely love this post! and I agree with everyone of your tips. we get so stressed trying to make things perfect we forget the reason for the season.

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