How to Have a Stress-Free Holiday Season (Yes, It's Possible)

Strategies for staying in the spirit

Updated 05/06/19
Stress-Free Christmas
Scout the City

'Tis the season to be jolly, right? For some, yes, but for others, it feels more like the season to be stressed. Whether you're working extra hours so you can take time off to travel and be with your family or you're planning on hosting a big holiday celebration this year, there is likely a ton on your to-do list but not much help or time to get it done. And even if you aren't stressed out because of your to-do list, the holidays can dredge up a lot of emotions. If you're feeling behind, don't worry: You still have time to get back on track.

Things can be—and will be—a whole lot better if you have an arsenal of strategies to help you cope with the inevitable stress that comes along with the season. Remember that the point is to be merry. So to help you get the most out of these last few days before the holidays begin, we made a list of easy, time-saving tips to help you stay organized and productive to make these coming weeks 99% stress-free. At the very least, they'll help you cope with that leftover 1% of anxiety. Scroll through below to regain control of Rudolph's reins, (sorry, we had to).

Do Intermittent Speed Cleaning

Though cleaning up the house is probably the last thing you want to think about, let alone do, putting it off until the last minute before guests come over will only stress you out more, especially if it's looming over your head. In other words, don't wait to do a deep clean the day before you have people over. This way, you'll only have to do some touching up on the actual holiday rather than a two-hour deep clean session. And if you aren't hosting, that doesn't mean you're off the hook—a clean space will help your mind feel less cluttered.

In case you aren't sure where to begin, remember to freshen up the bathrooms, especially the ones you know guests will be using. Replace hand soaps, place a few holiday-friendly candles in there, and clean the surfaces and floors. Make sure you also clean the kitchen, but if you're cooking on Christmas, keep in mind that it's going to get messy again, and that's okay. You might even want to get a few cleaning products that look pretty so you can keep them within reach and on display for quick, last-minute touch-ups.

Get Gift Wrapping Out of the Way

Once you've shopped for all the family members, decorated the tree, and set the holiday menu, you face the ever-so-tedious task of gift-wrapping. If you don't enjoy wrapping gifts and you know it'll present some challenges, that also means it's probably going to be a pretty messy endeavor. The solution is simple. Instead of making a huge mess with paper, ribbons, and pens, get your gift-wrapping done early so you aren't stuck doing an extra round of cleaning right before the big day. Without the pressure of the clock, you can transform something daunting or annoying into a creative and thoughtful project. If you want inspiration for unique gift wrapping, check out these artisan-generated ideas.

Plus, this will also allow you to spend the holidays enjoying your family and preparing for big meals. Speaking of which, consider making these gourmet-tasting but easy-to-make holiday recipes, ranging from mains to desserts and everything in between. We promise they'll relieve some extra stress, especially if you're a beginner in the kitchen or happen to be super busy this year.

Create a Sanctuary at Home

To ensure that you feel at ease about having guests over or even about spending the holiday alone, add some décor touches that bring you comfort and a sense of peace. Whether you feel like relieving stress with a big mug of mulled wine, a cozy blanket, and a Netflix marathon or you feel like your living room could benefit from an extra candelabra, holiday aromas, or outdoor lights, make sure you aren't running around looking for these things at the last minute. If you know you have everything you'll need, it will make guests feel more comfortable if you're hosting, and hopefully, it will create a peaceful oasis to unwind in during your free moments and will quell any holiday-induced anxiety.

And now, if you've crossed everything off your to-do list that still doesn't seem to make you feel more at ease, try some anxiety-reduction strategies to calm your mind. You could try this 90-second rule our editorial director swears by or do something to stop your anxiety before it hits you in full swing like sweating it out with a run, practicing yoga, or calling up a friend to talk it out.

What measures do you take to ensure your holidays are stress-free? Share your ideas and strategies in the comments below.

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