3 unconventional ways to reduce holiday stress

“December is the worst.”

My work colleague started with the comment when we met for a work meeting. Right after his remark, the floodgate of stress-inducing complaints/challenges of the December holiday month opened.  

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Everyone else in the meeting started with their December blues….

While they languished about their work deadlines and things to do/finish before the end of the year, I simply said,

“My December is going to be okay… Better than okay.”

I can see everyone asking the same question in their “don’t believe it. she’s not telling the truth” expression.

Despite their dubious expression, they all wanted to know my secrets to have a calm /unstressful December holiday season.

I slowly said, “it is simple, but you have to be okay with some people not liking you….or many people”

Forget the gift wrappings; better yet, forget the gifts

The biggest stress during the Christmas holidays has always been about gifts. Trying to come up with a gift list for family members/friends, even work colleagues, is one of those impossible tasks items we all have to do and hate.

Coming up with the ideal gifts each person wants/likes while trying to match that with a less-than-perfect budget has always been stressful…

In the past, I have even tried the easy non-gift gift idea: a gift card. Although the premise of letting gift receivers select their gifts and the convenience for gift-givers is convincing…they rarely work.  

I have never felt comfortable giving gift cards as gifts. 

With the yearly stress of going through gift lists and struggling with should I or shouldn’t I questions, the Christmas holiday stress during the pandemic year was a welcome distraction. 

Last year, I no longer had to worry about coming up with perfect gift lists for EVERYONE. I could not get the gifts even if I came up with impressive lists. 

All the malls were closed…nothing.

Even if they were open, I did not want to take the chance of going to the mall. Wearing the double mask while trying to gauge the 6m personal distance between other shoppers and me was not the ideal mental state I wanted to be in.

After saying no to gifts, I felt a weird sense of calm I had not experienced since elementary school.  

No Christmas cards

With the unthinkable of no gift operation executed, I started to look for other things to cut from the December holiday to-do lists.  

I was on a roll to implement more no to stressful holiday traditions. Finding another no-list came surprisingly easy after taking out the gifts; annual handwritten Christmas cards.

For some reason, I had this idea that the Christmas card must be handwritten…otherwise, they do not count as meaningful holiday wishes.  

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Of course, the stress of handwriting Christmas cards does not end in handwriting but continues into other activities. Mailing them out on an appropriate date, so they just arrive perfectly, not too early, not too late.

Physical Christmas cards take a lot of juggling acts.

During the pandemic, I had to let go of sending out Christmas cards when I learned that Canada post can’t guarantee mail delivery dates.

Instead of sending out the cards, I started texting, FaceTimeing, whatapping…Instead of spending hours on writing ( and using whiteouts), I started scheduling our video chat times. 

Seeing my friends on my iPad screen during the holidays was the new tradition the pandemic brought on.

No holiday decorations

Don’t get me wrong.

I also love beautifully decorated Christmas trees or colourful outdoor lighting decorations just as much as the next person.   

I just don’t love them in my house! 

Thinking about untangling the lighting cords to decorate the house, or worse, having to take them down after the holidays, does not put me in a joyful mood.

It would be the most stressful thing to do on my growing list! 

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A few days ago, I saw a beautiful Christmas light-decorated house when I returned from work. On pitch black night, seeing those lights made me feel happy, joyful, and festive…all the right feelings for the upcoming holiday season. 

I was grateful to the house owner who spent his /her time decorating their house to provide a festive/ uplifting feeling for people passing by.

I also realized that I was glad I was not the person who had to deal with organizing and storing the long lighting cords next year:-)

Final Thought

There are many traditions surrounding holidays, especially in the most prominent holiday month in December; gift giving, handwritten holiday cards, and even creating lighting decorations for your home.  

Even though they “can” create beautiful memories, they can also develop stress in our lives.

Striving to make the perfect memories for everyone, we forget the most important person in our lives: us.

The pandemic taught me the different ways to celebrate holidays, and I will continue with the new ways to celebrate the holidays.

What would you really celebrate this holiday season with extra time on your hand?

One thought

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