Christmas stress © mario beauregard – Fotolia

All of us would like for the Holidays to mean gracious, thoughtful interactions with everyone we meet.  Drivers would welcome the opportunity to allow others to seamlessly merge into freeway lanes, pull out of the crowded parking lot onto the even more crowded street in front of them, or invite you to take the open parking place.  Shoppers would be pleasant in the checkout lines and ask you to please go first with your 5 items.  What a wonderful world it would be.

Instead, driving during the Holiday season is much like amateur hour.  No one seems to know where they’re going or how to get there.  Each person’s individual need is certainly greater than anyone around them.  Rudeness rules the day and shopping feels like going to war.  In an effort to improve everyone’s Holiday experience, we have 10 great tips for reducing your Holiday stress and embracing the season.

1. Change Your Mindset

Of course, the holidays are a special time of year meant to celebrate friends and family, yet we're not talking about a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence here. Christmas may come but once a year, and it comes every single year without fail. Remember, there’s always next year to make that dessert, add more decorations, or buy that one more present.  Perfection isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

2. Practice the Power of No

The word no is extremely powerful and liberating. Yes, it's tempting to say yes to every invitation and every opportunity to volunteer during the holidays. You'll enjoy the parties and other events more if you pick and choose the ones that are closest to your heart. There's no need to lie or to explain why you can't participate. Simply say, "I'm sorry. I already have plans for that time."  Those plans could be to workout, have a quiet meal at home, wrap presents, or go looking at Christmas lights.  You certainly don’t have to explain your plans.

3. Simplify Your Celebration

Holiday traditions are wonderful and help create lasting family memories, and there's no reason why you can't choose to create new traditions that better fit your current lifestyle. Your family could surprise you and hardly notice the changes – a few less decorations, a couple of varieties of cookies instead of 10 or 12 recipes, or a pot luck style meal with everyone contributing a dish and sharing the cooking chore.  Instead of multiple gifts for each person, possibly the adults in the family draw names to create a smaller gift exchange and save other gift giving for children?

4. Focus on Others

Instead of getting wrapped up in gift giving, baking and other holiday obligations, find a way to give back to your community this year. You might choose to volunteer at a toy drive for underprivileged children or help out at a local food bank. Instead of fighting crowds at the mall, you could be doing good for others and for yourself.

5. Choose a Charity Gift

Another great way to avoid the mall or hours of online shopping is to donate to a charity.  Then give a small gift – possibly cookies, candy, or a lovely card – and include information about the charity to your family and friends. 

6. Don't Skip Your Regular Workouts

It's easy to find extra time in your schedule by cutting back on gym visits or afternoon walks.  Since exercise is such an effective form of stress relief, all you'll be buying yourself is exhaustion and added worry.  For ideas on stress reducing exercises from WedMD, click here.

7. Boost Your Immune System

There's nothing more stressful during the holidays than coming down with a cold or the flu. To protect yourself during the holiday season, make sure you're getting ample fruit and vegetables in your diet, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep and washing your hands regularly. And get a flu shot to protect you from the most common strains of the flu virus.  For more tips on strengthening your immune system, click here.

8. Stretch

Ever notice how dogs, cats and other animals stretch throughout the day? They do it for the same reasons we do—it just feels good! Starting or finishing your day with some light stretches can help you de-stress and relax when you need it most. At work, you can try some neck, arm and chest stretches, too. The Mayo Clinic has some great suggestions for stretching right at your desk.  Click here. 

9. Grin and Bear It

Smiling, even when you don't feel happy, can instantly lift your mood. Instead of frowning, clenching your jaw, or tensing up your forehead in reaction to a stressor, grin and feel your troubles melt away. Try it now! 

10. Visualize

Even if you can't escape from your stressful life, you can escape through the magic of your mind. Right now, close your eyes and imagine the world's most perfect, serene place. It can be waves crashing on the beach, rolling hills, or even a familiar childhood room. Note how safe, secure and relaxed you feel by picturing this place. Whenever you need a short escape, you can always return there in your mind. 

At Dean & Draper, we want to reduce your stress about your insurance coverage .  As always, we are here to answer your insurance questions, review your coverage, and at your request make recommendations to meet your insurance needs. 

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us.