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5 Stress-Busters

Mental Wellness for the Holidays

As the holiday season gets underway, everyone in the family is excited! The reality, however, is that many of us are left feeling overwhelmed, under-accomplished, stressed out, and downright tired by the first of the year. These five steps might help you achieve a more soul-filling and uplifting season.

1. Arm yourself with an essentials list. What is most important for you and your family this season? To figure that out, make a list of everything you like to do during the holidays. Don’t hold back! Let your brain run wild and write down everything.

Now, begin to look for overlap that might be creatively combined. If you have bake cookies, spend time with family, and establish traditions as separate items, lump those three together and you’ve created the family tradition of baking cookies as one event.

Next, go through and highlight three to five items that are most important to your family. There are no wrong answers, but you must clearly identify what makes your heart happy during the holidays.

After that essential list is created, you can go back and number the other items from least to most important. This will be your list of non-essentials.

2. Count the days. Seriously, look at the calendar and count the number of days and waking hours you will have to commit to holiday time. Consider days available for travel, all-day events, times for shopping and decorating, or evenings available for gatherings. Block out open-time on the calendar in which you can begin to schedule holiday happenings.

3. Transfer your essentials list onto your calendar. Don’t let others direct your schedule. Take charge of planning what matters most to your family by scheduling it out now for the entirety of the holiday season. Once your essentials are booked, you can slowly add in non-essential events. But I do encourage you to leave some dates open for impromptu events. Also, note that essential events should not be changed, while non-essential events are flexible. Color-code these two distinct categories on your calendar so you know what stays, and what is flexible.

4. Learn how to say “no.” This powerful word is highly underused and that’s a big part of what stresses us out. Channel your inner Elsa and learn to “let it go” if it’s not crucial. So you’ve been invited to a party of a colleague with whom you wouldn’t normally socialize? Simply RSVP your regrets. No formal explanation is needed.

5. Stay focused. Remember the reason for the season – as defined by you. Help yourself and your children to recall what your family values about the holidays by making a simple visual reminder. You can get fancy with a custom sign, or simply write out a list and keep it on the fridge. It will be a daily reminder of what you are celebrating, and will help you avoid getting flustered over the
little things.

These steps should provide you with some peace of mind knowing that you aren’t missing anything, and the comfort that comes from not having to rush through the holiday season.


Stacy Wood, founder of Through the Woods Consulting, is a certified coach and an intentional success consultant. Her mission is to help professionals create success in their lives through thoughtful planning, impactful communications, and focused women’s leadership development. You can learn more about her practice at Through the Wood Consulting.
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