The holidays arrive each November with the promise of good cheer. But, for many of us, the period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s can be overwhelming too, whether we’re worried about finances or overwhelmed by seasonal to-dos. More than one in three adults feels seasonal anxiety or stress, according to the American Psychological Association. Its experts recommend mitigating angst by setting realistic expectations, giving back, and practicing self-care. One effective way to take care of yourself is to plan ahead and get certain tasks out of the way early, so you can find moments to relax and enjoy the season. Here’s how.
1. Decorate simply and safely.
Some people put up a themed tree in every room or cover their credenza with a Dickens Village. That’s wonderful, but it’s not for everyone. To add festive flair on a smaller scale, choose one highly visible area of focus. This could mean seasonally changing a mantle display or front door wreath. Another tip: Decorate before Thanksgiving with versatile items such as gourds, branches, and lights—and leave those out through the season.
Lighting candles is playing with fire. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that candles start two out of every five holiday blazes in homes. Use battery-operated tapers, tealights, and menorahs instead. If you buy a natural Christmas tree, invest in a stand with straps or clamps for additional stability. (Some stands even self-water!) Avoid decor that can be dangerous to children and pets, such as tinsel, glass ornaments, and baubles that resemble candy or other food. While the toxicity of poinsettias is exaggerated, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the plants can still sicken cats and dogs—as can mistletoe, holly, and many varieties of lilies.
Replace old and broken string lights with LEDs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LEDs use less power (taking roughly $10 off your electric bill per tree per season), don’t get as hot (reducing risk of ignition and burned fingers), are more durable (made with epoxy, not glass), last longer (up to 10 times as long), and are easier to install (more strings can be safely connected end to end).