Welcome to the holiday season—the activities that start after Halloween build into Christmas and continue to grow. Although the holidays should bring joy and excitement, for a lot of people holiday stress is a real challenge. If you’re like me and find the holidays to be a little stressful, I wrote this post for you.
While the holiday season is a time of celebration, joy, and togetherness, it can also bring a lot of stress and anxiety. From gift shopping to travel, holiday gatherings, more time with friends and family, the pressure to create the perfect holiday experience can be overwhelming. In this post, Im sharing some practical strategies to help you can manage holiday stress more effectively and truly savor the magic of the season. Below we will explore various ways to navigate the holiday season with mindfulness, presence, self care and and joy.
Why is the Holiday Season Stressful?
The holiday season is stressful for a multitude of reasons:
A packed social calendar
The holiday season brings with it a flurry of social events – office parties, family gatherings, and reunions. While these occasions are meant to be joyous, the pressure to attend them all and present yourself in the best light can be taxing. Balancing these commitments while also trying to find time for relaxation can leave you feeling overwhelmed, burnt out and exhausted.
Many people feel pressure to create the “perfect” holiday experience, whether that’s cooking a flawless meal, giving the best gifts, or hosting the ultimate holiday party. Meeting these self-imposed and societal expectations can be daunting. Not to mention, its a no win situation. In reality, the holiday season is not always picture-perfect, and striving for an unattainable ideal can lead to feelings of disappointment and inadequacy.
Gift-giving is a central tradition during the holidays, and while it’s a heartwarming gesture, it can also take a toll on your finances. The pressure to buy presents for family, friends, colleagues, and even acquaintances can lead to significant financial strain. You may find yourself stretching your budget to accommodate gifts, contributing to feelings of stress and anxiety about post-holiday financial stability.
In addition to the financial aspect, the desire to find the perfect gifts can be stressful. Society often places immense pressure on us to demonstrate our love and appreciation through lavish gifts. This pressure can lead to indecisiveness and second-guessing, resulting in even more stress during an already hectic time.
Travel and Logistics
For many, the holiday season means traveling to spend time with family and friends. However, navigating crowded airports, enduring long road trips, and coordinating schedules can be incredibly stressful. The fear of potential delays or cancellations can also add to the apprehension of holiday travel.
Grief and Loneliness
The holiday season can be especially difficult for those who have experienced loss or are feeling isolated from their loved ones. Seeing others celebrate with family and friends can amplify feelings of grief and loneliness, making this time of year emotionally challenging for many.
Overindulgence and Health Concerns
Holiday festivities often revolve around indulgent meals and sweet treats. While it’s essential to enjoy these special moments, the excess of rich foods and alcohol can leave you feeling physically and emotionally drained. Concerns about health and weight gain can contribute to stress and guilt during the holiday season.
Combining these factors can create a significant amount of stress during the holiday season. By increasing our awareness and acceptance around the holiday season being inherently stressful, we can better allow ourselves to proactively deal with challenges in a new way.
How to Reduce Holiday Stress
Beating holiday stress requires a combination of proactive planning, time management, self-care, and a positive mindset. Here are some practical tips to help you navigate the holiday season with less stress:
Plan Ahead: Create a holiday schedule or to-do list well in advance. Knowing what needs to be done and when can help you avoid last-minute rushes and panic.
Set Realistic Expectations: Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to create a perfect holiday. Accept that things might not go exactly as planned, and that’s okay. Focus on enjoying the moments rather than striving for perfection.
Budget Wisely: Set a budget for gifts, decorations, and activities, and stick to it. Consider more meaningful and cost-effective gift options, such as handmade presents or spending quality time with loved ones.
Practice Self-Care: Take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Get enough sleep, eat healthily, and find time for relaxation and exercise. Taking care of yourself will better equip you to handle holiday stress. I talk more about this below so keep reading.
Delegate Tasks: Don’t feel like you have to do everything yourself. Share responsibilities with family members or friends. Letting others help can lighten your load and make the holiday preparations more enjoyable.
Limit Social Media and Screen Time: Social media can create unrealistic expectations and amplify feelings of missing out. Limit your exposure to social media and instead focus on being present with the people around you.
Simplify Celebrations: Consider simplifying your holiday plans if they feel overwhelming. Scale back on decorations, host a potluck instead of preparing a full meal, or opt for low-key gatherings.
Practice Mindfulness: Stay present and focus on the joyous moments during the holidays. Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing, can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Learn to Say No: You don’t have to attend every holiday event or take on every request. It’s okay to say no when you need time for yourself or to avoid overwhelming commitments.
Prioritize Relationships: The holidays are about spending time with loved ones. Focus on building and cherishing meaningful connections rather than getting caught up in material aspects.
Laugh and Have Fun: Laughter is a great stress reliever. Engage in activities that make you smile and enjoy the holiday season.
Take a Social Media Break: Stepping away from social media during the holidays allows you to be more present with your loved ones. It also helps prevent the inevitable comparisons that arise from seeing others’ seemingly “perfect” holiday celebrations, gifts, or vacations. If you are grieving a loss this year, stepping away from social media can have even more benefits.
Seek Support: If you find yourself overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to talk to friends, family, or a mental health professional. Sometimes, discussing your feelings can provide valuable insights and emotional support.
More About Self-Care During The Holiday’s
During the holiday season, we’re jam packed with holiday events and holiday commitments. Getting intentional about your self-care is a necessity during this time of year. Most people think of self-care as something elaborate that needs to be scheduled into your day like getting a massage or going to a yoga class. And while those are amazing ways to practice self-care, when it comes to coping with holiday stress I find it helpful to practice self-care in a handful of ways. Here are some of my favorite ways:
Carve our time for yourself!!
Even if it’s just five minutes…and preferably at the beginning of the day. This not only helps set a great tone for the day but minimizes the chance of being derailed. Journaling, meditation, stretching, practicing yoga, writing a gratitude list, setting intentions or breathwork are all things you can do that take less than five minutes and will have a HUGE impact.
Say No to Things and Set Boundaries
The holidays can be a notoriously difficult time of year for a lot of people. Try to be really intentional and check in with yourself about what commitments you say yes to, and say no if something isn’t going to serve you. Remember you always have permission to change your mind.
Another big one during the holidays, especially since we spend more time around other family members is setting boundaries. Setting boundaries with loved ones and family members can be hard and scary but when you do, you teach them how you want to be treated and feel more respected in turn. If you notice that you feel stressed or feel overwhelmed with the thought of going home or being around family, that’s probably a sign that you could benefit from setting boundaries.
Nourish your body
Pick nourishing, balanced foods when possible. Load your plate with veggies and greens while also indulging in some of your favorite foods. I LIVE for the food around the holidays and I’m all about enjoying what you love. I invite you to think mindfully about what’s going on your plate and add some nutrient dense foods when possible. I also wrote a blog post on intuitive eating that could be a great way to get intentional with food choices and build healthy habits this season.
Get some sort of physical movement
Not only in movement amazing for our physical health, it has so many benefits for out emotional health. Whether it’s a walk outside, HIIT, yoga or strength training. You will never regret a workout!! A great question to check in with yourself is what kind of movement would make my body feel best today? Honor whatever comes up for you.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Drink plenty of water throughout the day. One of my favorite ways to do this, is making sure to have a glass of water between any other beverages you might be consuming. If you’re interested in reading more about this check out this blog post I wrote here.
As a holistic therapist, every holiday season I work with my clients to help approach the holidays proactively. If you found these helpful and are wanting to set yourself up for success this holiday season, I would love to support you. You can learn more about me here. I am currently accepting new clients who reside in the state of California.
You can also check out my holistic eBook The Good Mood Guide. It’s filled with a weeks worth of healthy recipes, mindfulness practices, self care strategies and all my tips and tricks to prioritize yourself. I do the practices in this guide every time I need a little reset and I am always so happy I did. Extra bonus, it makes for an amazing gift!
Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as legal, financial, or medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional advice of your own attorney, accountant, physician, or financial advisor. Always check with your own physician, attorney, financial advisor, accountant, or other business or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here.