Handling Holiday Stress

The holiday season is barely under way, and some of us may already be ready for it to be over. In addition to our normal routines at home, work, or school, we’ve added shopping, party planning, finishing end of the year projects, studying for finals, and, perhaps, even traveling to the mix.  There is even more to do than ever before and seemingly not enough time to do everything.  Even with all the extra activities and preparations, we can still reduce our holiday stress with these five proven strategies, and some of these strategies may even be so effective that we may choose to use them all year long, not just during the holidays!

  • Acknowledge that everything doesn’t need to be perfect.  Many commercials, movies, and television programs really miss the mark when it comes to realistic portrayals of family holidays, with their scenes of picture-perfect winter wonderlands and even more perfect families, friends, and festivities. Accept that we can enjoy some beautiful and meaningful holiday get-togethers, regardless of whether something does not go as planned.  Perfection is subjective, and most people will not notice when something does not go the way we think it should.  Instead of putting an elf on shelf, put unrealistic expectations and perfectionism there for the duration for the holiday season and beyond.
  • Start holiday planning and preparations earlier. Imagine how much less stressful the holidays would feel if we made plans ahead of time.  Last minute shopping and hastily thrown together plans tend to make a hectic time of the year even more stressful.  A little preparation can go a long way.  So, plan menus, shopping lists, budgets, and travel plans sooner rather than later.  Spreading out holiday tasks over time can make them much more manageable and enjoyable.
  • Scale back holiday plans.  Due to the pandemic, many of us had to reconfigure, or cancel, holiday plans last year.  As we enter into this holiday season, explore ways to let go of overly idealistic visions of the perfect holiday for one that is more manageable and meaningful.  We are not obligated to spend our time, money, and energy on holiday traditions, get togethers, and gifts that leave us feeling overwhelmed and depleted.  Celebrate in a way that leaves you embracing the true meaning and spirit of the holiday season.
  • Take shortcuts to save time. Figure out easier ways to do things that will provide more time for other task and self-care.  Instead of baking holiday treats, order them from a local bakery.  Rather than spending time racing from store to store, shop online, give gift cards, or opt to donate to the recipient’s charity of choice, in lieu of a gift.  Pay for professional gift wrapping.  We do not have to do every single task ourselves, so, ask for help and delegate when possible.
  • Choose what you want to do.   We get to decide what the holidays truly mean to us and then express that meaning in our celebrations. Avoid getting caught up in the commercialism that casts a dark cloud over the holiday season or subscribing to how others define it. Let go of feeling required to plan and host elaborate, lavish celebrations, unless that is something that you really enjoy doing.  We can choose to have smaller, more intimate gatherings with friends spread out over a month or two, rather than a huge party that makes it difficult to really connect with others.  For some of us, the holidays are about giving to others, so, we may focus on supporting local charities through our gifts of time, talent, and treasure.  It is our choice how we spend our time this holiday season, so, be intentional.

This year, make the conscious decision to implement these strategies to handle holiday stress. By letting go of perfectionism, planning earlier, scaling back unrealistic expectations, and using shortcuts to save time, we can give ourselves the gift of a more peaceful holiday season. No matter what holiday you are celebrating, may it be a safe, happy, healthy, and peaceful one for you and yours.  Happy holidays!

That’s another story . . .

Categories: That's Another Story

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: