The countdown to Christmas day is on! I’ve read so many posts online recently where people are saying that they can’t believe how fast this year has gone and how soon the Christmas holidays will be here. I feel the same way. Every year seems to fly by quicker than the last one. Is that just part of getting older or is it part of simply being too busy?

While the Christmas holidays are meant to be a fun time of the year as an adult they can also quickly become a very hectic time of the year. There are suddenly so many things to do above and beyond our normal daily routines and it is easy to quickly feel overwhelmed.

Do you breeze through Christmas or do you find the Christmas holidays overly stressful?

There are many reasons a person’s stress level may rise during the holidays. It could be because their gift list is bigger than their bank account and they are worried about how they will pay for things. Perhaps they are dealing with the loss of a loved one and this time of year generates too many memories that are hard to cope with.

Or it could be all of the additional responsibilities that go hand in hand with the Christmas holidays. By that I mean hosting and attending Christmas parties, decorating the house, shopping for both groceries and gifts, baking, hosting out of town guest, and so on.

Do you have high expectations of the holiday season?

Many times as adults we feel stressed out because we so wish that we could re-create the magical memories of when we were children and we anxiously waited for Santa to arrive.

Perhaps as adults Christmas no longer feels magical. I’ve found that when I’ve spoken to adults with children versus adults without children, the ones with children seem to find Christmas more enjoyable because of how excited their children are.

I’ve also read stories about women that wake up on Christmas morning and just start crying because they are worried about whether or not they remembered to do everything and they suddenly feel emotionally overwhelmed. Is any of this true for you too?

How many times have you said or heard someone say “I can’t wait for December 26th”?

That statement is a popular line in one of my favorite Christmas TV movies known as “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. This movie was filmed in 2008 in British Columbia, Canada. It stars Henry Winkler, Brooke Burns and Warren Christie.

Brooke plays a single mom and a workaholic. She finds the Christmas holidays extremely stressful, just like what I am talking about today, and she often says that she can’t wait till December 26th.

Don’t become so burdened that you secretly wish for the season to pass quickly as well.

What can we do to relax and enjoy the Christmas holidays?

Say No Thank You

Are you the person that receives lots of Christmas party invitations from friends, family and co-workers? As you add them to your calendar do you suddenly realize that you will be going to some sort of holiday function every weekend between now and December 25th?

While some people are happy to attend every party, many do purely out of obligation. This year give yourself permission to prioritize things. Go to the parties that you really enjoy and say no thank you to all of the other invites that you receive. Don’t worry. No one will be upset with you.

Carrying on Christmas Traditions

While growing up you may have watched your mother or grandmother cook a full course Christmas dinner. Perhaps it was routine to host a lavish holiday party. And maybe your family baked hundreds of Christmas cookies too.  Family traditions are important but don’t allow yourself to become so wrapped up in tradition that it consumes you.

If you find that the routine you normally follow for the pure and simple sake of tradition is weighing heavily on you and creating more stress than you can deal with, break away from it! You will feel happier when you’re free from this stress.

Instead of following old traditions, consider creating new easier ones.

Decide to only bake a few of your favorite Christmas cookies.

If you typically host a party or Christmas dinner, consider asking friends and family members to bring holiday dishes so that you do not have to do everything on your own.

As well, a trick that I started doing a few years ago is to use my slow cookers when I make side dishes. One crock pot is full of garlic mashed potatoes and another is full of sweet potatoes with marshmallows melting on top. That way I am not rushing around trying to get all of these dishes ready during the last 30 minutes prior to sitting down to dinner.

Shopping for the Perfect Gift

Do you stress over what to buy for everyone on your Christmas list? Do you put pressure on yourself to find the perfect gift for everyone?

Remember that people don’t expect you to devote hours and hours searching and shopping for gifts. We give gifts as a way of saying I love you, I appreciate you, thank you for being my friend. And even the simplest of gifts can say all that. We all need to remember that Christmas is about more than who bought or received the biggest and most expensive gift.

As well, we all know, shopping online makes searching for gifts much easier and quicker. It might also be more cost effective to buy online because many stores offer special sales or free shipping near the holidays.

Skip Gift Wrapping

I can’t remember the last time I wrapped a Christmas gift. Wrapping one gift after another takes too long and it is a waste of paper.

I much prefer using seasonal gift bags. They come in many different sizes, with beautiful Christmas designs on them, and they are so easy to use. Plus you can re-use them year after year.

The best, most inexpensive place that I have found to buy gift bags is in pretty much any dollar store. And don’t worry. They look just as nice as the high priced ones at the department store.

As you can see, there are several effective ways to deal with stress during the Christmas holidays. The important thing is to take a few minutes to determine what’s causing your stress so you can eliminate it.

If your Christmas holidays are typically filled with stress do something different this year, and above all, make sure you have fun!