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Beating the Holiday Stress

"Tis the season to be...worried!"
By: Vanessa ValenzuelaBeating the Holiday Stress

Christmas can be the craziest time of the year.  Malls jam-packed with shoppers, toys, and gifts quickly going “out of stock”, zero parking slots available, long lines at the grocery cashier, parties and gatherings left and right, plus “Carmageddon” on a daily basis - these are just some of the worst things that we Filipinos have to contend with during the holidays.   

“‘Tis the season to be...worried!” With some pre-holiday planning, there is a way you can keep your blood pressure on the low while your spirits are kept sky high. Here are some tips on how to beat the holiday stress:

On Lists

  1. Complete your gift list ahead of time. Cramming to shop for gifts without a list may cause you to forget some important friends or relatives.
  2. Every time you buy an item meant for someone, write down the name of the gift and description beside the recipient’s name.
  3. Keep the printed list inside your wallet or a digital copy on your phone. One of the most stressful parts of gift hunting is trying to remember whether or not you already have purchased something for your loved ones from your last shopping session.

On Gifts

  1. Set a budget per head and stay within range. A 1998 poll conducted by EDK Associates of New York said 44% of Americans are pressured to spend beyond their means during the holidays.
  2. If you have a short Christmas list and you have all the time in the world, go ahead and scour the whole mall for that perfect gift for each individual, but if like me you have a whole roll of tape receipt full of names, there’s a smarter way to shop:
    • Categorize some groups that won't mind receiving similar gifts from you – like classmates or church group mates. I personally don’t mind receiving the same cosmetic pouch as the rest of the female members of my department if the gift came from a coworker.
    • You can also categorize individuals who actually don’t know each other but share the same profile – like grandmothers, for example. I have four – one pair from each side of my parents and another pair from each side of my husband’s parents.
    • Group by age - I categorize my gazillion nieces, nephews and godchildren into age groups so it's easier to shop – for example, I buy three differently designed T-shirts from the same store for my three teenage nephews and multiple variants of the same cologne spray for my teenage nieces.
  3. If you absolutely don’t have the time to think of individual gifts – go generic. You cannot go wrong with a box of specially made brownies or cookies. Or better yet, why not donate to charity under your loved one’s name? 

On shopping

  1. You already know that 99% of the population will be flooding to the malls during weekends, so try going out on a weekday when fewer people are out shopping.
  2. If you have a car, make sure it’s parked nearest the mall so you can take several trips back and forth to drop off shopping bags. If you don’t, figure out where the baggage counter of the department store and do the same.
  3. Do not bring too much of your personal stuff when you go out gift hunting. As mentioned in #2, you’ll drain your energy faster if you exert effort in carrying stuff around while shopping.
  4. Wear comfortable clothes and footwear – you’ll be searching and carrying stuff all day, so ditch the high heels and the designer bag. Speaking of bags, bring one that is secure and easy to bring – like a fanny pack or sling bag that frees up your hands.

On hosting parties

  1. If you’re hosting multiple parties over the next few weeks, better be ready with a menu ahead of time. Choose the dishes that are easy to make or can be prepared 1 or 2 days ahead of time and stored in the freezer.
  2. Order in – it is definitely more expensive, but you’re paying for the convenience and stress-free party hosting. Have a professional caterer prepare tried and tested delicious meals served in a beautiful setup, complete with uniformed waiters and servers – you’ll surely impress your guests.

Stress generally causes people to eat more food that leads to weight gain which consequently makes them feel more stressed! To stop this vicious cycle from even starting, learn to plan ahead of time and ensure you find time to relax and take care of yourself. Christmas activities are supposed to be fun. Come to think of it:  this is the only time of the year where you get to have most reunions with long lost friends and relatives you haven’t seen in ages! So try to put everything into perspective and just have fun doing your holiday chores. Merry Christmas!

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