With the holidays quickly approaching and the stores annoyingly filled with Christmas decor already, it's not difficult to feel the pressure of entertaining, cooking and playing host or hostess. It's also easy to forget to take a few moments for ourselves and find a way amongst the hustle and bustle to slow down and take care of ourselves.
• 1 It's hard to not feel pressure to buy or make gifts for everyone you know, but committing to your financial limits and setting a budget early, is the best way to keep financial stress to a minimum. In my extended family, we have a rule to only give gifts to the kids. I know other families who do a secret Santa-type exchange. Certainly helpful in these especially tough economic times.
• 2 Make lists. I keep lists for holiday cards, gifts, guests, grocery shopping and chores. The less I have to keep floating around in my head, the less stressed I feel. If I keep the lists in my phone or a notepad in my bag, it's always within reach. I also like to cross items off, rather than delete them. Then I feel a sense of accomplishment when I see how many items I've crossed off.
• 3 Don't go overboard. Many of us want to unleash our inner Martha Stewart when it comes to decorating or planning a menu. Simplicity can be a blessing, especially if you're pressed for time. In the end, it's about spending time with family and friends, not with having the most impressive centerpiece.
• 4 Do things for yourself. And I don't mean the "one for you, one for me" way of holiday shopping. I mean, if you are feeling tense and frazzled, take a few hours for yourself. Take a hot bath or use some soothing aromatherapy oils. Even a brisk walk in fresh air or a nap can make a world of difference when you're feeling overwhelmed.
• 5 Grocery shop early. There's nothing worse than being stuck in a grocery store with a lot of other stressed-out people. If possible, pre-order high demand items like poultry or pies. Root vegetables can be bought ahead of time and will keep. For things that need to be of the utmost freshness, try to shop during off-peak times.
• 6 Keep a good sense of humor. Whether you're hosting houseguests or will be a houseguest, things are rarely perfect. Just remember that it's only for a few days and take everything with a grain of salt. When in doubt, here is a list of 10 Tips for Being a Good Houseguest.
(Image: Flickr Member Helga Weber licensed for use under Creative Commons)