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10 things to do now, to ease holiday stress later

By The Health News Team | November 7, 2023
Person using laptop while writing a list in a notepad

August 24. That’s the date Starbucks released this year’s pumpkin spice latte, kicking off the holiday season while most of us were still hitting the pool.

Whether or not you agree with the early launch, one thing is undeniable: The holidays creep up on us faster than holiday music in your local grocery store. And if you don’t get ahead of it, you could be in for a stressful season.

Luckily, there are things you can do now to avoid stress later. Check these 10 to-dos off your list to relieve pressure and put the focus on fun:


Nail down travel.

There’s nothing more terrifying than last-minute airfare prices. If you’re traveling this season and still haven’t booked your tickets, do it fast. Then, set reminders to pause your mail and other services. If you’re traveling by car, get your tuneup scheduled and start mapping your route. Keep your road trip fun by researching points of interest and tasty eateries along the way.


Start a running list of gift ideas.

Use your smartphone the smart way, by keeping a list of gift ideas. You never know when Uncle Frank will mention a little-known hobby, so taking the time to save the tip in your phone will be good for future reference. Another helpful timesaver is to wrap gifts as you get them. This way, you won’t need to pull an all-nighter with an inevitable shortage of gift bags.


Tuck away extra money.

Holiday expenses start adding up. From gifts and decorations to overpriced pumpkin pie, unforeseen costs lurk in the most spirited of places. Many banks offer holiday accounts, and with direct deposit, you won’t have to think about transfers or balances. Even an old-fashioned money jar to collect the spare cash in your pockets can help ease money matters later.


Make a meal plan and grocery list.

If you’re hosting the festivities this year, you can easily get a jumpstart on planning the holiday menu. Then, create a grocery list so you can grab it and go right before your guests arrive. Look for recipes that are easy to freeze, like fudge or dessert bars — and don’t forget easy-to-freeze non-holiday meals, like chili for lunch or a tasty breakfast quiche.


Post a shared calendar of holiday happenings.

Perhaps the most hectic part of the holidays is keeping up with all the happenings — especially if there are multiple people in your household. Posting a shared calendar in a common location (such as on the fridge or your phone) can help everyone stay on the same page. Holding weekly huddles around the calendar can help you address who’s going where, and what you need to buy or prepare.


Start a healthy routine now.

It’s hard to be healthy over the holidays. Schedules are busier than ever, and there are cookies everywhere. Help yourself stick with a healthy routine by starting one now. Locking yourself into a weekly exercise class or daily walk will help train your brain to keep it going. And committing to a healthier way of eating will help you resist that extra eggnog.


Plan group activities.

For some, the holidays are the only time of year that friends and families come together. To avoid the disappointment of full restaurants or booked activities, make a plan and get any tickets or reservations in advance. But not all activities need a price tag. From an outdoor barbecue to a friendly game of charades, there are plenty of options for group gatherings.


Start decluttering.

Yes, mess causes stress. Minimize it over the holidays by clearing out clutter today. If you’ll be entertaining guests, take inventory of what you need, such as bed linens, games and extra toilet paper. Then plan a day where you can truly set everything aside and clean. Even if you’re not hosting this holiday, decluttering will help you better navigate the craziness that can come with the season.


Build self-care into your plan.

Self-care is the last thing you’ll think about when the holidays hit. Yet it’s the first thing you’ll need. Make a plan to “sneak” self-care into your upcoming routine. Plan a walk with friends or simply opt out of an activity or two. Finding a small dose of peace and quiet can help you reconnect with yourself and mellow your mind from anxieties.


Plan a reward for yourself.

After weeks of holiday planning, adding one more to-do may seem outrageous, but planning something special for yourself — as a reward for your hard work — is a great way to keep up your enthusiasm. Whether it’s a weekend away or a cozy corner with a book, give yourself a pat on the back for managing a fun, yet busy, holiday season.

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