“I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!” – Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol

Balancing all of the professional and personal duties in your life is already challenging. So, with all of the extra responsibilities that pile up in December, it’s only natural to catch yourself being a bit of a Scrooge from time to time. From holiday parties to gift exchanges and a myriad of obligations for family, friends and coworkers alike, the holidays pack in enough pressure to make even the most chipper of elves shout, “Bah, humbug!”

Cheers to Stress-mas, the most stressful time of year!

Stress and its negative effects are all too real. This holiday season, don’t let the tension tarnish your terrific times! Take a lesson from old Mr. Scrooge and heed the warnings of the ghosts of Stress-mas past, present and future:

Ghost of Stress-mas Past

Stressful things are going to happen around the holidays; the sooner you can accept this as fact, the better. When something inevitably goes wrong at work or at home, it’s important to not let it derail everything you’re working on. To borrow a phrase, let it go! There’s only so much you can control. A great trick for confronting and erasing stress triggers is to write down the things that are upsetting you on a piece of paper, then tear up what you wrote to physically and metaphorically get rid of what’s wearing you down.

If your head is stuck thinking and rethinking about stressful events from the past, consider talking it through with someone you trust, such as a family member or longtime friend. Just putting thoughts into words and hearing them spoken out loud can be surprisingly cathartic. If you need additional help working through an especially sensitive matter, you may benefit from speaking with a mental health professional.

Ghost of Stress-mas Present

One of the great tragedies of holiday season is how quickly it all seems to fly by. One minute, you’re having a panic attack trying to coordinate ten separate shipping schedules for gifts of all shapes and sizes, and the next minute you’re waving goodbye to the ones you love most. The takeaway here is clear: live in the present this December!

Rather than escaping into your smart phone during celebrations to double check this or that, consider unplugging from technology (at least partially) in order to enjoy the relationships that truly charge your spirit. Don’t just slip that device into your pocket, power it down completely. At the end of the day, it’s more than just a matter of whether your phone is on or off; it’s a mindset. Make the conscious choice to be present in the celebrations that warm your heart this year and feel the stress melt away!

Ghost of Stress-mas Future

All too often, unnecessary stress rears its ugly head when lack of planning meets something utterly unexpected. To avoid stressing over what’s ahead, do your future self a favor and pre-plan for the upcoming holiday frenzy. In as far as advance as you can, plug any anticipated important dates into a calendar that combines professional and professional obligations. The sooner you can begin reviewing the big picture of your holiday season, the sooner you can catch potential overlaps and conflicts.

How many times have you said, “We need to remember this for next year!” when something finally clicks at a family gathering or work event? Yet, in the flurry and fun of the moment, the thought goes to the wayside and we find ourselves scrambling to remember those very same nuggets of wisdoms months later. Instead of repeating the same old stressful pattern, try writing down tips for making life easier the moment they pop into your head. That way, when it comes time to prepare for the holidays once more, you’ll have your very own stress removal study guide ready to consult!

Stress is a scary thing. While it might not take the form of Marley’s chained ghost and appear at your bedside, it can still put a damper on your holiday plans. However, by taking tangible steps to reduce stress in our past, present and future, we can find more time to appreciate the spirit of the season.

What’s your secret to stopping holiday stress? We’d love to hear your tips in the comment section below!