Susan Orlins susan.orlins@
Worrywart’s 12 Ways to Deal With Holiday Stress
It is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year!” But for many people, it is just the opposite. If you find yourself more hassled and cranky than merry and jolly, and instead of sugar plums dancing in your head you have nightmares of family squabbles instead, then you need to read my “Worrywart’
1. Lists and Calendars. Putting everything on a list or on the calendar helps reduce worry. Rather than trying to keep all the things you have to do in your head, go to the list or calendar only when you need to. Keep your lists short, and to the point!
2. Time Constraints. Your lists will help you prioritize. Successful people don’t try to do it all. Eliminate the least important 10 or 15 per cent. Delegate anything you can: food preparation, looking after Rover, shopping, etc.
3. Shopping. Ordering online is a great time-saver! Many websites offer free shipping. You can get everything from A to Z on Amazon.com and other sites. When you do venture out, rather than several outings, save time by doing errands back-to-back. Stop trying to be a perfectionist;
4. Money. If money is tight, as it is for many of us, make gifts. Gifts of food are always popular; try making candied pecans (stir sugar & pecans in a pan and cool on foil). Gift certificates for services you can provide: massage, organizing a closet, gardening, etc. Instead of new gifts, suggest an (environment-
5. Christmas Dinner. Make it potluck. Or serve take-out Chinese food or rotisserie chicken on fine china (no one has to know). Plan ahead and make dishes you can freeze. Centerpiece tip: Save time and money by scattering jellybeans or peppermints on a table to decorate it. Or buy a few flowers and scatter the petals. (I love using Gerber daisies for this.)
6. Dish Washing. Reframe washing dishes as a pleasure rather than a chore. (Same goes for all “chores.”) Enjoy the camaraderie of drying plates and pots with loved ones. The conversation and togetherness by the sink is one of my favorite parts of the holiday.
7. Be Creative. Try something different on Christmas Day: go to a movie, or even have dinner at a Chinese restaurant (no cooking and cleanup to worry about!)
8. Weight Gain. It is no secret that people gain about 6 pounds around the holidays. Try what I call preventive eating: an hour or two before dinner, I eat an ounce or less of dark chocolate, a handful of almonds along with a large glass of skim milk. For hours afterwards, I don’t feel hungry. I also try to remind myself how awful it is to feel stuffed.
9. Family Conflicts. The holiday season can bring out the worst behavior in some people. Lower your expectations for a “perfect” holiday dinner or gathering. Think about the triggers ahead of time and ask yourself—and perhaps a friend—how you might avoid them. Sometimes inviting a new person to a family gathering diffuses tension; we tend to behave better when others are around.
10. Family Activities. Stop trying to please “everyone.”
11. Sleep. Do your best to get enough sleep; this is especially important during stressful periods. Tip: If you have trouble falling asleep, try “counting your blessings instead of sheep.”
12. Fun! Remind yourself to lighten up and that the journey is more important than the destination. If you burn the ham, laugh about it; everyone will remember fondly the year they had scrambled eggs for Christmas dinner!
Susan Orlins, an award-winning journalist, is author of the upcoming memoir "Confessions of a Worrywart: Husbands, Lovers, Mothers, and Others" and of the blog, "Confessions of a Worrywart." Visit www.confessionsofaworrywart.com