Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Holiday Stress Busters!

Published in Northern Living / Southern Living Magazines (Print) 2011

Holiday Stress Busters!
by Alan & Ching - R. de Luzuriaga

It is every bit ironic that the Christmas Season - the time that is meant to remind us of love, family, peace and harmony, is the same period where people get all worked up and stressed out. Most Filipinos take the Christmas activities very seriously. Traditions and practices unique to the "Diwa ng Pasko" ( Spirit of Christmas) make the season ( and usually, even the month after, when the credit card bills arrive) even more hectic, busy and stress-filled. In order to make this Holiday period more relaxing and enjoyable, try out these suggestions to make your celebration worry free.

1. Plan your budget. - Spend what you can afford. Keep those credit cards locked up. Whether it is for the Christmas party, or for gifts, keeping it simple and affordable will bring the same fun and enjoyment to everyone. For a more organized and detailed plan, use free spreadsheets like CALC in OpenOffice ( ) or free cash management software like GNUCASH ( ) to track those expenses. Remember, the first Christmas was held in a lowly stable, and you are only obliged to give expensive gifts if you happen to be one of the three Kings.

2. Schedule it & make a list. - It doesn't matter if you use a pad, an organizer, or a smart phone... fix that schedule and you will avoid mix ups on those important activities. Write down not only the things you need to do, but also your gift list. Jot down ideas on what to get them and cross them out once you have wrapped up the goodies. This will also help you spend less time thinking and looking, when you get to the store.

3. Shop early, Start now ! - We start our Christmas shopping in January. Seriously. This might be too extreme for some, but if you happen to see something appropriate and specially "On sale" for a friend or family member, why not buy it and place it in a special "Christmas Box or Cabinet". Make sure to label the gift so as not to forget who it is for, as well as cross it off your list. With 11 months to do your shopping, not only will it be un-hurried, but you will also get the best prices for the items on sale. Check your "Christmas Box" when the season is about to start and be amazed how much shopping you have already accomplished. Start now!

4. Learn to say NO! - Not only does everyone throw a party, but you get an invite to each one. To keep your sanity, think hard on which affair matters most to you, personally and professionally. Make time for these important functions and decline - with a heartfelt thanks - those other gatherings.

5. Pick a Gift theme. - In order to avoid heading to countless malls and stores (think of the horrendous Metro traffic) to pick that right gift for the right person, why not decide on a theme for all the gifts you plan to give. Personalized items - towels, mugs, pens, T-shirts, jackets - enable you to order all the items in your list, in a single store. Food items can be ordered in one pastry shop or fruit baskets from a single stall owner.

6. Work - the stress - Out! - Nothing gets rid of unwanted stress and worry like a good workout. Whether it be in a gym, a treadmill at home ( we recommend the TRX Suspension Training Kit - ), or a run and bike ride in your community, sweating and stretching is a sure way to beat those stressful moments when they cannot be avoided. Make time for it during this holiday break.

7. Outsource your Kitchen. - Gone are the days when Moms would slave away all day in the kitchen to have something scrumptious for the Christmas table. Many restaurants and caterers are open on Christmas morning ( and even in the afternoon, for some). All it takes is a phone call to have that hearty feast ready for your family and friends. It is best to order days in advance.

8. Rest & Relax. - Sneak in a full body massage at home or a trip to the beauty salon / barbershop for some rest and relaxation between all those hectic activities. The time off will result in a more pleasant time not only for yourself, but for your kids and relatives as well, when they see you all calm and serene amidst all the hustle and bustle.

9. Be a Manager and delegate. - We always think that we need to do things ourselves to get the best results. That may be true in many cases, but why strive for perfection all the time. Sometimes, it is those little flaws that make the celebration more exciting and memorable. Learn to pass on some of the responsibilities to your spouse and kids, as well as to co-workers and friends. You'll be surprised how willing they are to help, and may even be flattered that you asked for their assistance.

10. Count to ten & breathe. - When the cork is about to pop or when the kettle is simmering, don't lose it. Remember that all problems have a solution and all annoyances will pass. Count to ten...slowly...and take deep breaths with it. And when the stress reaches its boiling point, ask yourself...What could be the worst thing that could happen? You'll be surprised that it is not as bad as you think.

Last piece of advice....think happy thoughts. Christmas, like every moment of our life, is what we make of it.