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December 18, 2018

As festive and fun as the holidays can be, it's all too easy to get trapped in the "hamster wheel" of busyness. You've got presents to wrap, more presents to shop for, meals to prepare, flights to catch, kids to dress for school programs, relatives to catch up with and through it all, you're expected to maintain a "holly jolly" attitude.

In reality, the holidays can feel like a lot of stress. 

Although it's the opposite of the spirit you're trying to cultivate, stress can lead to anxiety and gloom that no one wants to feel any time of the year, much less during Christmas. Luckily, there are a few ways you can tweak your mindset (and your schedule) to reflect a more grateful, calm, and memorable holiday week. Of course, there's no one size fits all way to manage stress and cultivate gratitude, but these strategies may chip away at stress you didn't even know was there. 

1. Start Saying No

It may sound rather Grinch-like, but trust us on this one. One of the biggest reasons for overwhelming stress during the holidays is overcommitment. You've got 5 Christmas parties this week, your preschooler's Christmas program, deadlines for work before the break, AND your mother-in-law comes in to town this weekend. For lots of us, the stress can steal the joy of the season right out from under us. 

Instead, start saying "no" to things that you can realistically say no to. That extra party? You probably don't have to go. That last round of shopping "just in case"? Just say no. 

You'll be amazed at how much more joy you'll have attending the things you choose to attend and give your energy to when you don't feel "forced" into it. 

2. Let Go of Things You Can't Control

Similarly, you may have a sense of ever-present perfectionism lingering around the holidays. Although it's great to want everything to be beautiful and intentional, the reality is that focusing on too much, especially things outside of your control, will steal your joy. 

Instead, realize that you can't control the way your uncle behaves or what your MIL buys your children for Christmas. You can only control what you can control, so let go of the rest. 

3. Make a List, Check it Twice

Simple list making is a great way to see how much you're really getting done AND prevent yourself from doing too much. Doing only the things on your list will make space for downtime, all those fun holiday things you didn't think you'd have time for, and of course, more gratitude. 

4. Remember that ____ doesn't Define You

The way your house looks doesn't define you. The length of your Christmas list doesn't define you. Your budget for gifts doesn't define you. Remember not to play the comparison game this season. 

5. Choose Experiences Over Things

Even though it's late in the game to consider rethinking your gifting style, you can still choose to focus on experience with yourself and your family as opposed to buying more gifts. Go to a museum together, watch a Christmas light parade, make hot cocoa in the kitchen in your Christmas pajamas. These are the things your kids (and you) will always remember with gratefulness. 

How are you making space for gratitude this season? 

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