The year-end rush is upon us, with mere weeks to go until the holidays. As much as most of us look forward to this festive time of year, it tends to also be very stressful – emotionally and financially. This is then also exacerbated by the fact that we are extremely tired after 11 months of work, life and everything in between in a year where the cost of living has increased tremendously.

This year, to avoid things turning into chaos, how about taking a few moments to plan ahead so that you have a plan for keeping calm and embracing the Christmas crazy.

Plan ahead… and manage expectations
Abraham Lincoln famously said that if he had an hour to chop down a tree, he’d spend the first 45 minutes sharpening the axe. Wise words on the importance of planning that you can make your mantra this festive season. Take the time to plan ahead as much as you can. From finalising the Christmas lunch menu well ahead of time, to having a response ready for the invitations you want to decline.

Lists are a great way to stay on top of things, and there is great satisfaction to be had from ticking things off the list. Think, a shopping list, a gift list that details who you are buying for and what you are gifting them, an activity list with ways to keep the kids entertained, and a checklist for when you go on holiday that includes what to pack, arrange and do before you depart.

While planning can go a long way in keeping the chaos at bay, it is also important to manage expectations – starting with your own. The festive season is a magical time of year but it’s also ok if you’re not feeling the cheer or if you need to cut back on the socialising or retreat from the whole “vibe”.

And if you’re really not feeling it and this time of year gets you down, do not hesitate to reach out for help or support. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group have various helplines that are available 24 hours a day. Give them a call if you need to.

Thank you for the music
There is a lot of research that points to the power of music to help reduce stress and anxiety. So why not make your playlist your battle armour this festive season? Music streaming services like Spotify offer thousands of playlist for every taste – whether classic rock, jazz, hip hop or Amapiano is your thing, there will be something that is music to your ears.

Or create your own playlist with all your favourite jams, and play it whenever you need a lift or something to centre you when the festiveness becomes overwhelming.

Tech tools to lighten the load
There are many great things about technology but at this time of the year we are especially grateful to the digital tools that help us get things done faster and more efficiently.

Keeping your home clean amidst all the activity associated with the festive season can be very taxing but luckily it’s really simple to hook yourself up with a home cleaning service, such as those offered by SweepSouth.

Whether as a once-off to lighten the domestic load at this time of year, or as a regular arrangement, a SweepStar makes quick work of cleaning and can be booked for a time that works best for you.

If you have travel plans for the festive season, booking flights can be one of the more stressful activities of planning your getaway. Having the right tools to help you book your flights can relieve so much of that stress – from searching for flights to price comparisons to ensure you get the best price for your flight. Cheapflights makes this process so easy, allowing you to compare flights and prices, so you can find the best deal and flight time to go on that well-deserved vacation, without the stress.

Take a moment
Most importantly, however, regularly take the time to take a moment – a moment to appreciate wherever it is that you are, to appreciate that you’ve made it to the end of another year.

Gratitude, interestingly, is consistently associated with greater happiness. So take a moment simply to say thank you, to yourself, your family, the universe, it’s bound to make you feel good.

Submitted by Irvine Partners