4 Foolproof Ways to Manage Holiday Stress

The holidays are a busy time when getting into overwhelm is almost a given. For some, it's a time when old hurts surface making enjoying family and social events difficult.

Fitting in small acts of self-care makes the difference between handling stress with grace or getting stuck in a ba-humbug attitude.

1.  Plan Ahead To Decrease Stress

This time of year can feel like a mountain of obligations. Kids activities, party planning and Christmas shopping is a lot to juggle. Planning ahead can minimize the overwhelm.

Even if you are not a planner, taking 30 minutes to create a plan for the holidays will decrease stress over the next 2 months.

Set up a time to go over the calendar. Make a special breakfast date with your partner so it's fun! If it's just you, grab your favorite drink and get started.

Look at your activities for the next few weeks. Prioritize what works best for you and your family. Remember when kids get overwhelmed it comes out as being overstimulated. Use this time to talk about managing stress as a family.

Choose which activities you can skip or share with your spouse. Opting out when it feels like too much is great self-care!

  • Write out every holiday event on a calendar.
  • Mark each activity with a  YES, NO or MAYBE. (Remember not everything is a YES.)
  • Prioritize first, then let yourself make new choices.

I'm not suggesting that you ditch out on your spouse's Christmas party because you don't feel like going. Pick to save your sanity. When things get crazy, you'll be glad you did this.

When you allow yourself to do less, you'll get more time to enjoy the holidays. Share your plan to do less and maybe others will join you! 

2. Prioritize Self-care 

If you are running around grumpy and frazzled, the spirit of giving gets lost. It's important to take care of YOU. Just because you're not a kid doesn't mean you don't deserve to enjoy the holidays! 

Setting boundaries this holiday

Sometimes, the holidays bring up painful memories and unresolved grief that make it hard to celebrate. Be kind to yourself. The holidays will be more enjoyable if you stop putting everyone else's needs before your own.

Ask for help.

If you are the super responsible type, this is challenging. Let go of the guilt that you should do what you've always done. If nothing changes, nothing changes right?

Here are some tips for better self-care.

  1. If you have kids, find another parent and trade help. 
  2. Host a potluck instead of doing it all.
  3. Don't volunteer to help everyone and their dog (okay, maybe just the dog.)
  4. Stay connected if holidays are difficult.
  5. Prepare healthy meals ahead to save time during the week.

3. Setting Boundaries Instead of People Pleasing

When the holidays becomes ALL about giving, you end up feeling taken advantage of and frustrated. Honoring your wants makes the holidays more enjoyable!

Years ago I wanted to host a friends Thanksgiving instead of being with family. I wanted to try something different. It took a willingness to let go of their reaction but I did it. And it was just what I needed at the time. I had the power to make a different choice and so do you.

Think about what you want this holiday season. Let yourself have it!

  • What would you like to do differently this year?
  • Is there anything you REALLY don't want to do?
  • What's the one thing that would make your holiday more enjoyable?
  • If someone drinks too much, make a plan to remove yourself if necessary.
  • Are there any obligations that you are willing to say no to?

Don't let negative self-talk or guilt keep things status quo. You CAN do something different. The sky won't fall! For instance, leave early if the family Christmas starts going downhill. Avoid hot topics that lead to arguments. Consider taking a separate car to take care of yourself.

4. Healing Old Hurts Before The Holidays 

Old hurts tend to surface around the holidays. Being with family can be stressful but there are ways to handle it that work.

Don't let the past control the present. You may miss the good stuff because resentments keep you focused on what hurts instead of what works. 

Find a way to deal more effectively with old hurts and resentments.

  • Do some journal writing to get clarity.
  • Stay in the moment and find neutral things to talk about.  
  • If you need to clear things up, do it before the family gathering.
  • Watch negative expectations, Don't predict the day before it happens.
  • Enjoy what's happening in the moment.
  • Always remember to take care of yourself too.

Having an enjoyable holiday means taking care of yourself despite the craziness of the season. Make choices that reflect what you want isn't selfish, it's self-care. 

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