Holiday stress is a common issue for many people, but there are several strategies you can employ to avoid it and make your holiday season more enjoyable.
The holiday season, with its twinkling lights, festive decorations, and warm gatherings, is often hailed as the most wonderful time of the year. However, beneath the surface of merriment, it can also be a time of stress and overwhelm.
The pressure to create perfect moments, the hustle and bustle of shopping, and the anticipation of family gatherings can all contribute to a sense of overwhelm. But in this guide we’ll explore effective strategies to help you not only overcome and even prevent holiday stress but also make the season more enjoyable.
As we unwrap the layers of holiday stress, we’ll discover practical tips and mindful approaches to ensure that this season truly lives up to its reputation as a time of joy, connection, and cherished memories.
Whether you’re seeking ways to manage your time and finances, set boundaries, or simply find moments of tranquility amidst the chaos, this article will serve as your compass to a more peaceful and fulfilling holiday season. So, let’s embark on this journey together, and reclaim the magic of the holidays while keeping stress at bay.
Remember that everyone’s ideal holiday is different, so tailor these strategies to your personal preferences and circumstances. The key is to prioritize your well-being and make choices that align with your needs during this festive season.
How to Prevent Holiday Stress
1. Plan Ahead
A great way to prevent holiday stress is to start your holiday planning early. Create a to-do list or a calendar to keep track of tasks, events, and deadlines.
Make a list of everything you need to do and start as soon as possible. This includes shopping, cooking, cleaning, and wrapping presents.
You’ll be thrilled when you don’t have to shop the week before Christmas because you’re already done buying gifts!
2. Set a Budget
The holidays can be expensive, so it’s important to budget wisely. Financial stress is a major contributor to holiday stress, so you can avoid this one with some careful planning.
Make a list of people you need to shop for and events you might be hosting and how much you want to spend on each.
If money is tight, look for areas where you can cut back for a while. You could cancel monthly subscriptions or memberships for a month or two, or take a break from Uber Eats.
Here are 15 ways to stop wasting money.
If you need to, tell your family that you can’t spend a lot this year. They’ll understand (and if they don’t then they don’t even deserve gifts).
3. Manage Your Expectations
You can overcome holiday stress by realizing that the holidays don’t have to be perfect. Focus on creating meaningful moments rather than aiming for picture perfect events.
Accept that you can’t control everything. Some things may not go as planned, and that’s okay. Adaptability is key to reducing holiday stress.
Communicate openly with family and friends about your plans and expectations to ensure everyone is on the same page. Be willing to compromise on some things when people have alternate ideas, except when it would place a huge burden on you.
4. Ask for Help
Creating the perfect holiday gathering should be a group effort. Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance from friends or family members.
Whether it’s help with cooking, decorating, or childcare, people often appreciate being asked to contribute and you will avoid feeling so overwhelmed during holiday gatherings and events.
5. Focus on What’s Important
When you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything that’s going on, reflect on what is truly important to you.
Whether it’s spending time with loved ones, giving back to the community, or just enjoying the cheerful atmosphere, give that your greatest focus.
Don’t worry about what other people are doing, just do what you enjoy the most. If that’s staying home and watching movies with hot cocoa and a cozy blanket, then do more of that. If it’s connecting with your friends, make that your priority.
6. Simplify Traditions and Gatherings
If you love elaborate traditions and it brings you joy, feel free to skip this suggestion.
However, if that’s something that stresses you out consider simplifying or scaling down your holiday traditions and decorations. You don’t have to go all out every year.
Delegate tasks or share responsibilities with family members or friends to reduce the burden on yourself. For example, you could have a potluck where everyone brings a dish instead of making a big dinner yourself.
If you have a tradition that’s no longer enjoyable, change it up. For example, if you always go to the same restaurant for Christmas dinner, try a new one this year.
If you usually travel to see family for the holidays, see if you can have your gathering a week early so you can avoid the worst of the holiday traffic.
The important thing is to find ways to make the holidays less stressful and more enjoyable for you and your loved ones.
7. Say No When You Need To
It’s okay to say no to things during the holidays. Don’t over-commit in an effort to please everyone or do all the things.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to turn down invitations or requests. Be selective about the events and invitations you accept.
Decide what your boundaries are ahead of time so that you know exactly what to say yes and no to. Most people will understand if you tell them that you’re feeling overwhelmed or that you have other commitments.
If you’re saying no to a party to just sit on the sofa with a book and a cup of tea, that’s totally ok!
8. Make Time to Relax
It’s important to make time to unwind during the holidays. Even if you have a hundred things to do, reduce holiday stress by making time for self-care activities such as meditation, yoga, a relaxing bath, or even a holiday movie night to recharge and reduce stress.
Prioritize sleep and maintain a relatively healthy diet to keep your energy levels up. Make time to do some sort of movement like taking walks or going to exercise classes.
9. Practice Gratitude
It’s easy to count all the things that are hard and going wrong, but that doesn’t fix things or make you feel better.
Instead start counting your blessings, as my grandma would say. Look around and really notice the things that make you happy, and even the things that just make life more comfortable and convenient.
Here are some questions to help you feel grateful around the holidays:
- Who are your favorite people and what makes them so wonderful?
- What things make your life more convenient? (your coffee maker, car, etc)
- What things bring you physical comfort? (your favorite cozy blanket, fuzzy socks, etc)
- What’s your favorite part of the holidays? (time with family, the decorations, watching movies, baking, your holiday mug collection, etc)
10. Practice Mindfulness
Stay present in the moment and savor the holiday experiences. Really take in what’s going on around you, notice all the little details that will make looking back on this time so much sweeter.
If you like journaling, take some time to write about the fun things you’re doing this time of year. It doesn’t have to be a long entry, just a few sentences about what you’re doing and how you feel. You can even just write it in a notes app on your phone.
When you’re really overwhelmed, deep breathing exercises can help reduce anxiety and stress, and below is a meditation for anxiety. Limiting screen time can also help you focus on the present moment. Here’s how to take a social media break.
11. Don’t Take Grumpy People Too Seriously
Many of us have that one family member (or a few of them) that always has to complain and be unhappy. Or maybe you have an unpleasant encounter with a stranger at the grocery store.
It’s very easy to let those people bring us down and stomp all the cheer out of the holiday, but I encourage you to take a new perspective on those people.
Don’t take those people seriously or give any personal meaning to their complaints because it’s not about you, it’s about them choosing to be miserable. If they can’t just relax and enjoy the holiday and family time, that’s not your fault or your problem! It’s not your job to make them happy, so don’t spend time trying to do the impossible.
It’s their choice to be miserable, and you can’t change them.
If you can, avoid any gatherings where they’ll be in attendance. You will avoid so much holiday stress by just not being around them.
12. Make Post-Holiday Plans
Plan some enjoyable activities for after the holidays to help ease the post-holiday blues. That might just be staying home in your pjs for a few days, or a weekend away. Having something to look forward to can boost your spirits.
Related: Winter Self Care Activities
That concludes this guide to deal with holiday stress, what tip will you be using most during the holiday season?