Stressed much? Between decking the halls and baking plates of cutout cookies, the happiest time of year can often feel like the most hectic—particularly for women. According to an American Psychological Association study, 44 percent of women report increased stress levels around the holiday—a full 13 percent more than men.
What sparks such anxiety? On average, women feel more obligated than men to conjure holiday magic for their families, which can include buying and wrapping gifts, decorating, and accommodating houseguests. Follow these simple ideas to trade stress for spirit.
Share the load.
Feel like you’re doing all the work? Have an honest conversation with your spouse, partner, family or housemates to divide and conquer holiday chores. Be mindful to choose some tasks you really enjoy. Love cooking? Take on the holiday meal while your partner tackles late-night gift-wrapping.
Just say “no.”
You really don’t need to party-hop three cocktail soirées in one night. When holiday events start to get overwhelming, pare down your commitments. “No” is a magical word. Choose the most important traditions to focus on. Does sledding trump building a gingerbread house? Is making your grandmother’s cookie recipe more important than crafting a mocktail you saw on Pinterest? Prioritizing certain holiday events over others will allow you to enjoy traditions you value most.
Write it down.
Recent research from Michigan State University found that writing down your worries, such as financial and relationship anxieties, can help you better prepare for hard tasks—like dealing with your great-aunt—in the future. Also, take a hint from St. Nick and make a list of to-dos.