How to Reduce Christmas Anxiety

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    Prevent Overscheduling

    • 1). Print a simple calendar. Take a moment early in the holiday season to write in all the events that are scheduled for December. Include school and church activities, pageants, parties, get-togethers and so on. Writing down all the events on one central calendar will help to prevent last-minute rushing around and the overscheduling that leads to holiday exhaustion.

    • 2). Mark the items on your calendar as either "must attend" or "optional" events. Prioritizing will help you weed out some events and open up additional free time for relaxing. Overscheduling is high on the complaint list of many people around the holidays. Opting out of some of the less important items will help prevent Christmas overload.

    • 3). Schedule time for yourself. Writing in time on your calendar for a few breaks in the holiday madness will remind you to slow down and enjoy yourself. Spend some time watching a movie with a friend, making paper snowflakes with the kids or just reading a good book. Downtime is an important tool in reducing stress during this hectic season.

    Plan Meals Ahead

    • 1). Make a list of simple, healthy evening meals that can be prepared in advance to save yourself time and frustration in the kitchen. Purchase all the items you need for several weeks of meals in one shopping trip, minimizing trips to the grocery store to save time and effort.

    • 2). Prepare one or two weeks' worth of meals at a time in just a few hours on a weekend afternoon. Freeze meals like chili or beef stew in gallon-sized freezer bags, and toss them in a slow cooker in the morning. Refrigerate or freeze casseroles topped with chicken breasts or pork chops, and pop them in the oven later in the week.

    • 3). Enlist family or friends in a meal exchange program, where each person agrees to make one meal that everyone enjoys for each family. For example, if everyone likes your chicken and noodle casserole, make one batch for each family in the exchange, and store it in throwaway foil pans with the cooking instructions taped to the lid. Meet on an agreed-upon date, and exchange meals.

    Prevent Shopping Stresses

    • 1). Set a budget. Make a list of all the people you will be buying for, and include how much money you are willing and able to spend on each person. Include two or three gift options within your price range for each person.

    • 2). Take advantage of online shopping and free shipping deals to save yourself the time and hassle associated with overcrowded stores and parking lots in winter weather. Purchase as many items on your list as you can this way, and shop early in the month to allow for shipping time.

    • 3). Plan gift shopping time effectively by using your gift buying list to decide which stores you will be shopping. Gather any coupons that you plan to use, and staple them to the back of your list for easy access. Start at the stores farthest from your home, and work your way back to avoid backtracking, which wastes precious time and gas money.

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