OK In Health - Embracing Change

Embracing the Holidays, the Stress-Free Way! - December 2013

By Lyndsay Blais

A woman and her dog on the couch
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire… Jack Frost nipping at your nose…”

Well, although I’ve never personally roasted anything other than hotdogs, marshmallows, or the occasional “s’more” on an open fire…there is something about this and other Christmas carols that paint the picture of a peaceful Christmas season and draw me into the illusion that by merely thinking about it, I too, can have the ideal holiday experience that the malls and shops are trying to sell us before we’ve even had time to take down our Halloween decorations!

As well intentioned as one may be to start early and plan ahead to avoid the rushing-around-last-minute kind of stress that is often associated with the Christmas season, many people find themselves experiencing holiday stress due to lack of time to fit it all in – the card writing, cookie baking, parties, concerts, get-togethers, fundraising, volunteering, shopping, wrapping, traveling…year after year, we try to pack so much activity into a few short weeks, then we wonder why we’re stressed!

If you would like to experience a less-stressful December this year, try these easy to apply tips to reduce holiday stress and embrace the holiday season that is headed our way whether we’re ready for it or not.

  1. Envision – You have an idea of what an ideal holiday season would be like for you, so take some time to write down the key elements…this activity can offer some great insights into what your priorities are while providing clues as to the feelings you want to create, which may be achievable in lots of different ways. Love the smell of mulled apple cider but don’t care to drink it? Get a scented candle to create the mood you’re looking for, instant ambience – mess free! Much of our stress comes from a sense that our image and our reality don’t match up, yet we may be hard pressed to pinpoint exactly what’s missing, unless we take the time to clarify our ideal vision.
  2. Get organized – How much time do you really have? Be realistic and plan in advance starting now! Is there a tradition that is important to you to keep the same as you remember it? What could you change or adjust? Is it important that your home baking come from you? Can you delegate gift wrapping? Another cause of holiday stress comes from not having adequate time to make our vision into reality. If you really want to have home made baking and a Christmas letter in the mail by the 15th, plan now, and take baby steps to execute your plan - it doesn’t have to happen all at once. Use your smaller chunks of time to address cards, or if you have time to make cookie dough, but not enough time to bake, freeze the dough for later. With your vision in mind you will be able to make the most of your available time, time that without your plan, would otherwise be easily wasted.
  3. Hang up your cape - Recognize you don’t need to be a super hero…take into account all of your schedule’s demands, and choose wisely. Where would you like to spend your precious time and energy? Focus on your top 3 priorities, and for now, let the rest go…you’ll be more effective, and your stress will dissipate. Delegate what’s important that you don’t have time to do yourself, and let go of perfection. We all have things on our list that are great to do if we have time, but not worth stressing about if we don’t.
After taking care of your top priorities in the time you have, your next task is to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour. Getting it all done at the price of getting adequate rest and then being cranky with your loved ones defeats the purpose (see #1 – what is your ideal vision and how do you want to experience the holidays?) Hold that vision while you go about doing what you do, and you will, to quote Bing Crosby, “have yourself a merry little Christmas now.” Season’s Greetings… seize the holidays!


Lyndsay BlaisLyndsay's Bio: Lyndsay Blais, creator and facilitator of the Embracing Change Program; Assisting Individuals through Career and Life Transitions. Contact Lyndsay in Penticton, B.C. 250-809-5399 - Email


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