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Holiday Overwhelm: 12 Tips To Help you Survive the Stress of Christmas

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Woman with holiday stress. Defeat holiday overwhelm.

Holidays: A Stressful Time

Holidays are a busy time of year.  Love ‘em or hate ‘em, holidays bring lots of pressure.  Suddenly there are a ton of tasks to complete on top of everything else you have to do:

  • Make plans to visit family
  • Decorating your home
  • Shopping for gifts
  • Writing and sending holiday cards
  • Planning parties
  • Preparing for parties
  • Meal planning
  • Cleaning your house
  • Baking cookies
  • Cooking holiday meals

You have to do all of this while continuing to work full time and take care of your family duties.  

It feels overwhelming!  To top that off, you also have to deal with:

  • Family drama
  • Spending too much money
  • Traveling
  • Weather
  • Putting pressure on yourself to have the perfect holiday (wtf is a perfect holiday?)
  • Pressure from others to attend all of the things!

So what do you do to get through holiday stress and enjoy yourself?  Here are 12 ideas for coping with holiday overwhelm so you don’t lose your mind!

Have a Plan

Do you wait until the last minute to get things done, end up stressed out, broke and overwhelmed at the holidays?  Me too! It takes away all of the fun.

When you start early with a plan and obviously stick with it, you’re much more likely to get things done with less stress.  Start early, make a list, prioritize it, and check things off.  
Schedule the important things in so you are less likely to procrastinate them.  Pay attention to deadlines for ordering things in time for the holidays.

Set a Budget and Stick to it

My husband was once known as the best gift giver in his family.  This is a lot to live up to and I have watched him go overboard on presents because of this.  I’ve also watched him stress out about getting the right thing for people. This can get pretty pricey, especially when he doesn’t know what to get people.  This year he considered this $500 litter box, which I admit is AMAZING, but kind of a weird gift.
Start your holiday shopping with a budget in mind and stick to it.  

Here are some holiday gifts under $20 to help you stay on budget.  

Focus On Things You Enjoy About Holidays

What do you like about the holidays?  Are there certain things you look forward to?  

Make them a priority.  If you like driving around and looking at holiday lights, make sure you add this to your plan and schedule it into your day.  

Mindfulness:  Be Present

Be mindful of the parts of the holidays you enjoy and actually be present for those moments.  

Remember what it was like to wake up on Christmas morning as a young child?  There was a ton of excitement about whether Santa came and what would be under the tree.  Then opening presents would go so quickly and it would be over in a flash.
Make sure if there are things about the holidays you enjoy that you stay present for those moments.  Don’t multitask. If you have children and you’d like to see them open their gifts, don’t be in the kitchen making food.  Be with them and experience the moment. Write about it in your journal so you can revisit these memories.  

Let Go Of Things You Dislike Doing

Don’t like attending work holiday parties?  Don’t go.

I’m not sure who made the rules that you have to do certain things over the holidays, but you really don’t. You can make your own holiday traditions.
For years my mom wished to have the holiday party at her own house but year after year went to other relatives homes.  When she decided to take the holiday over for her family, her enjoyment of the holidays went up substantially.

She disliked driving long distances and being in large gatherings.  She preferred a smaller gathering in her own home. She enjoyed preparing a meal for her family.  She is much happier now doing it her way.

Is there something you could let go of?  Don’t think of how yet, but wrote down the thing you’d like to let go of.  You can figure out the how later.

Maintain Healthy Habits

When people become overwhelmed, often the first thing that happens is giving up on healthy habits such as sleep, diet, and exercise.  It’s important to keep these up while dealing with holiday stress so that you are at your best.

It’s tempting to sleep less to get things done when your to do list increases.  However, it doesn’t help you get more done when you’re tired. At one point I was sleeping about three hours per night to get things done at work and on my blog.  Guess how my productivity went? Not well, because I was tired all the time!
Holidays make it tempting to overindulge in calories.  There are a lot of amazing foods and you kind of want to eat them all.  The good news is most things you can get throughout the year. This is another time to prioritize.  My husband and I are doing the keto diet; yet, my favorite part of Thanksgiving is my mom’s stuffing.  I chose to have some of her stuffing even though it’s carb heavy.

Choosing is key.  When you make mindful choices you are more likely to do things that are important to you rather than reaching for all of the high calorie foods.
Make sure you have some snacks you like that you can reach for instead of the high calorie stuff.  Click here and buy the chocolate that keeps me on plan.  I swear without this I’d be eating all the cookies 🙂  

Set Boundaries and Say No

Demands come from others on the holidays.  They are often also stressed and ask for help.  If you can’t do things, say no. Don’t take on more than you can reasonably accomplish.  Keep in mind what is important for you to accomplish and do those things.

Have an Exit Strategy

If you are planning to attend holiday parties, have an exit strategy.  You may want to spend some time by yourself or with your immediate family.  You may want to get some rest for work the next day.

Whatever it is, it helps to have a plan to exit a gathering.  If you travel with a spouse or other people it is helpful to also work with them on an exit strategy.  Different people have different tolerances for the length of stay at a holiday party.

Time For Self

Make sure to take some time for yourself.  Holiday gatherings are exhausting (especially if you’re an introvert).  How can you take some time away from the chaos and have some me time?

Make sure you spend time doing what you like and enjoy your time off of work.  

Let Go of Perfection

There is no perfect holiday.  There are always going to positives and negatives.  When you find yourself judging how things are going, try to let go of that.  If everything was perfect you wouldn’t appreciate the good things that happen.   

Let Go of Judgments From Others

Unfortunately sometimes others are judgmental.  Try not to let this get to you. You cannot make everyone happy, nor should you try.  

Dealing With Negative Emotions

Let’s say you get through the holidays and get stuck in negative emotions, what then?  Well, one thing you can do is change your emotion by engaging in something that creates an opposite emotion such as watching a funny movie when you’re sad.  

Try to disengage from the situation that is causing negative emotions and engage in something else.  
If the holidays themselves bring on negative emotions for you, remember that time passes quickly and they will be over with before you know it.