Finding Bliss During the Hectic Holiday Season

When you’re making your to-do list and checking it twice, be sure that taking time to enjoy the season is at the top.

Shutterstock ID 327170654; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

Shutterstock ID 327170654; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

The end of the year can be a hectic time. Why not slow down for a moment to think about giving yourself (and others) the gift of sanity this holiday season?

While most of us yearn for calm during the last few weeks of the year, we often find ourselves amped up, with little time to relax. Create some peaceful moments during the remainder of this holiday season by organizing your time and energy around the things you value most.

For some people, the joy of the season comes from gift-giving. For others, it’s all about experiences like watching a parade, going ice skating, or checking out the holidays lights. Traditions such as sending cards or throwing festive tea party may define the holidays for you. And while people and social gatherings make the season bright for some, others like to focus on celebrating the spiritual aspect of the holiday.

Once you decide which parts of the holidays mean the most to you, keep your focus on what you value. From now until the end of the year, only buy items or create experiences that support those values.

A game plan for curbing the chaos

  1. Organize yourself first. Put some time on the calendar to enjoy the true meaning of your holiday. Ensure you block off this time for yourself before everyone else gets the last piece of you. Remember the flight attendants’ cautionary tip: Put your oxygen mask on first so you can be there for others and help them. Putting an appointment on your calendar guarantees you have some special time for yourself — even if it’s only 30 minutes or an hour.
  2. Remember that less is more. It’s so easy to get carried away by all the holiday hoopla surrounding you. But buying fewer gifts means you’ll spend less time wrapping, and making fewer commitments means you’ll have more time to do what you value most.
  3. Allow just one spot for a creativity zone. Limit all your gift-wrapping, card-writing, and project-making activities to one area. This is a space where you can leave everything set up and ready to use. It’s okay to have “work in progress.” Not every room in the home needs to be staged to perfection.
  4. Create your own holiday party team. Enlist a small group of teens, college students or friends who are willing to help you tackle your to-do list. When you pay or barter with others for assistance, your shopping, cleaning, organizing, decorating, and cooking will be much less stressful. Call them and get them scheduled.

Plan ahead for personal peace

Once we’ve organized our holiday tasks and timetable, the next trick is managing ourselves so we can enjoy gathering with family and friends. It’s normal to focus on how the house looks or what you’re wearing, but what really sets the tone for holiday events is how we present ourselves to others.

Just picture the comparison:

  • A harried host saying, “Come in, come in, oh gosh, I’ve got stuff in the oven, toss your coats in the guest room, bathrooms are down the hall, come in and join us.”
  • A calm, smiling host saying, “Welcome, let me give you a hug! How you are doing this evening? I’m so glad you’re here.”

As you plan, prepare, and experience the event, keep asking yourself, “What would make this easier for me?” For example, you could bake your holiday goodies from scratch and shop for centerpieces at the local florist, or you could order edible delicacies and stunning wreathes online and have them delivered.

And don’t be afraid to accept help. When someone asks if they can help you serve food, answer the door, or wash dishes, say yes. This not only helps you better handle your hosting duties, but also diffuses others’ discomfort when attending parties. Some guests struggle with social anxiety, and helping gives them something else to focus on.

Throughout the holiday season, remember: These moments with friends and family are precious, and it’s up to you whether you stress out or smile.

Posted by DorothyTheOrganizer on Zillow

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7 Ways to Reduce Stress During a Move

 Moving can be challenging — but it doesn’t have to be a stress fest.

Whether you’ve decided to accept a new job offer in another city, found the perfect apartment on Trulia, or finally closed on the home of your dreams, a fresh start is always exciting. Packing all your belongings into boxes and lugging it all to a new home? Not so much.

We get it. Moving can be crazy and stressful — but there are ways to survive the process without aging yourself prematurely.

Here are seven ways to manage your stress before, during, and after you’ve boxed up your life.

Block off a chunk of time to focus exclusively on packing. Request a day off from work, find a baby sitter or family member to watch your children, or clear your schedule for a weekend

1. Purge

Clutter creates stress. Minimize the junk clogging your closets and you’ll automatically breathe a sigh of relief. Clear the clutter from your home by organizing things you no longer need into three piles: Sell, Donate, and Toss.

Put big-ticket or valuable items in the “sell” pile. Then snap some photos and list them on eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook. (Or go old school if the weather’s nice and hold a massive yard sale.)

Score a tax deduction by donating items to Goodwill or a local thrift store. Throw away or recycle any items that have little or no use left in them.

Here’s the most fun part: Eat through the contents of your refrigerator and pantry. Spend the weeks prior to your move creating oddball meals based on whatever happens to be in your cupboards. And don’t forget to drink all your booze!

2. Clear your calendar

Block off a chunk of time to focus exclusively on packing. Request a day off from work, find a baby sitter or family member to watch your children, or clear your schedule for a weekend. You’ll get more done by packing continuously for several hours than you will by packing in short bursts of time.

If possible, bribe some of your friends to help. Promise to buy them dinner and drinks if they’ll donate a few hours of their time to help you pack and move.

3. Accumulate boxes

Start accumulating a stack of newspapers and boxes several weeks prior to your move. Ask friends if they have leftover boxes from previous moves or visit local grocery stores and retail outlets, walk back to where the employees unpack the inventory, and ask if you can walk off with a stack of boxes. Costco and Trader Joe’s both keep a steady supply of boxes in-store.

If you’re willing to splurge, you can buy boxes from shipping and packing stores or your local home improvement store. The benefit to buying boxes is that they’ll all be standard sizes, making them easier to stack and load.

4. Plan

Don’t start packing without a strategy. One of the most efficient ways to pack your belongings is to methodically move from room to room. Clearly label each box based on where in your home it was packed. This way, when you unload boxes in your new house, you’ll know where each box should go.

5. Protect your valuables

The last thing you need is a nagging concern that you can’t find your wedding ring and passport. Those worries will stress you out more than almost any other aspect of moving!

Pack one suitcase as if you’re going on vacation and include the items you’ll need to immediately access, such as clean underwear, socks, and a toothbrush. Add valuables and the most important documents so that you’ll know they haven’t gone missing.

6. Give ample time and deadlines

Nothing is more stressful than knowing that you can’t start moving into your new home until 8 a.m., but you need to be out of your apartment at noon that same day.

If you can, allow for your time in each place to overlap. This may mean paying two rents or two mortgages for up to a month, but it will allow you the benefit of time — and that will work wonders on your stress levels.

Also, create minideadlines for yourself. Promise yourself that you’ll pack up one room per day, or that you’ll unpack for two hours per night after you move into your new home.

7. Delegate

Finally, the best way to reduce stress is by outsourcing and delegating. Use online resources like TaskRabbit and Craigslist to search for people who can help you pack and move. Before they leave, ask them to help assemble furniture and move big boxes and furniture where you want it.

As the saying goes, many hands make light work. And when you’re moving, you need as many hands as you can get.

Posted by Paula Pant on Trulia