The holidays and stress should not even be mentioned in the same sentence. This is a time to reflect on our many blessings and to spend quality time with our loved ones. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way stress can rear its ugly head if we’re not careful. After many years, I have finally figured out how to truly enjoy the holidays without losing my mind!

Plan, Plan, Plan: Begin as soon as possible.  There’s no better place than Pinterest to get ideas for decorating, recipes, and handcrafted gifts.  I love the fact that you can create secret boards to keep your gift ideas on the down low. Involve your children in the pre-planning process and make it a tradition to gather ideas together.

Organize: Now organize all of these fabulous ideas into a realistic calendar.  For instance, I am the president of our friends of the library board and we have several events planned for the holiday season in addition to all of my other holiday festivities.  I go old school and print an actual paper calendar for November and December.  I then write in event dates, what has to be cooked or done by a particular date. I also need to make 100 ornaments from recycled books for the library by December 2. Rather than looking at the big, scary picture I figured up how many I need to make each week.  Many times if we look at a project as a whole it seems impossible, but if we break it down with mini deadlines  it suddenly becomes possible. You should approach the holidays in this manner.

Get Back to the Basics: If stress seems to be overshadowing your joyous holiday spirit, then maybe you should rethink your commitments.  Get back to what is truly important to you and respectfully decline invitations that aren’t so important to you.

Watch a Holiday Movie: We all have hectic lifestyles and there’s something to be said for taking time out and simply watching a classic holiday movie with the family.

Be Thankful: If I start feeling stressed, I remember how blessed I am to have the opportunities and means I have been given.  Many people would love to have these blessings.

Do Something Nice for Someone: I love giving little gifts of homemade bread or other goodies to neighbors and coworkers.  Giving someone an unexpected gift is a wonderful stress reliever!