Coping With Holiday Stress: 12 Stress Management Tips for Christmas

Holiday Stress is Real!

Holidays are supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.  Yet, they could also win the award for the most stressful time!  If you’ve ever dealt with holiday stress, you’ll want to read on so you can enjoy the holiday rather than dreading it.

How to cope with holiday stress, 12 stress management tips for the holidays

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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
  • Decorate your home
  • Shop for gifts on Amazon
  • 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.  I use my bullet journal for this.  

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.  

If you’re like me and are challenged by deadlines (haha), Amazon Prime is an amazing choice since you can get things delivered quick.  You can even sign up for a 30 day free trial and just get through the holidays!

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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.  Last 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 $30 to help you stay on budget.  

Focus on Things Your Enjoy About Holidays

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

Make these things 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.

If you only focus on things that bring you stress, you won’t enjoy yourself at all!

Stay Present Through Mindfulness

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.  

When you start the day with an attitude of gratitude it can help you to capture and experience those moments.  When you start the day, go into it with the intention of finding something to be grateful for.  It automatically changes your brain’s focus to look for those things.  

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, she enjoyed the holidays so much more.

You see, she disliked driving long distances and being in large gatherings.  She wanted to have a small gathering at home and found she actually liked preparing the holiday meal.  

But she always felt she HAD to go to the relatives parties…until she asked herself why?  What’s the worse that could happen?  Then she changed it.  

Is there something you could let go of?  

If you feel stressed about the holidays, what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you focus on that stress?  Write that thing down.  Brainstorm ways you can make this different.  

Can you change it somehow?  Can you choose to feel differently about it?  Can you cross it off your list and decided not to do it?  (What’s the worst that would happen?)

In her book Everything is Figureoutable, Marie Forleo does a nice job of walking you through making your own choices about life.  

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.  Here is how to do it without hurting feelings.  

Don’t take on more than you can reasonably accomplish.

Keep in mind those things that are important to you and do those things.  

Have you ever noticed that when you keep on taking on more and more, nothing gets done well?  

Also, if you keep putting everyone else before your own needs, where will you end up?  

Probably stressed, annoyed, and resentful.  Happy holidays 😉  

Maintain Healthy Habits

When people become overwhelmed, often the first thing that happens is they give 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 🙂  

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.   

Do you ever find yourself getting more and more stressed because you’re trying to create the “perfect” holiday?

Maybe you’re hosting holiday and trying to make your house spotless and squeaky clean…

First, no one is going to actually eat off of your floors.  

Second, when you focus on these types of things you are kind of  missing the point.  No one is going to say “hey, remember that holiday party we went to five years ago?  That would have been so amazing except for the pet fur left on the rug!”  

When you remember your favorite holiday, what comes to mind?  My guess is it has to do with a relationship…and it wasn’t perfect.  It was a nice thing someone said, a thoughtful gift, a funny story….

Let Go of Your Fear of Judgment

Along with letting go of perfectionism, you also have to let go of your worries about being judged.

Worrying about what others think of you is a waste of time.  

As humans we always judge.  People will be judged no matter what.  Sometimes the judgments are positive and sometimes they’re negative.  

Judging is the way our brains do things quickly.  

Worrying about judgments is not helpful in any way.  

Here’s the thing… everyone there is also worried that you are judging them!  

People are more focused on themselves than they ever will be on you.  So do your best to let go of this fear.  

Take Time For Yourself

Make sure to take some time for yourself.  Holiday gatherings can be exhausting (especially if you’re an introvert).  

How can you take some time away from the chaos and have some me time?

How about when you are at a gathering?  Is there a way you can step away for a moment?  Go outside for a breather (brrrr….) or take a little “bathroom break.”  

Have an Exit Strategy

Similarly, I find it important to have an exit strategy.  When you have a plan for how and when you’ll leave the party, it makes it less stressful.  

There are a ton of reasons to set this boundary.  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.

I’m an introvert and find parties so exhausting.  I need time to myself and because of that I build this in.  

Whatever your reasons, it helps to have a plan to exit a gathering.  If you’re with someone like a spouse, it’s helpful to also work with them on an exit strategy.  Talk to that person about what your needs are and also listen.  Together come up with a plan.  

Coping With Negative Emotions

Ok, 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.  

Remind yourself of a time that you got through hard things in the past.  You’ve faced much harder than this and have the strength to get through this.  

Sometimes it can be helpful to carry a reminder of this with you.  When I was going through a tough time I found that wearing bracelets with powerful words on them helped me tremendously.  It gave me a touchpoint for when I was feeling bad.  

I could look at my bracelet and say “You got this!”   You can purchase your own bracelet here.  Use the coupon code apenandapurpose for a discount.  

Other things that might be useful is carrying a token of some sort…a picture of a favorite pet, a crystal or rock to remind yourself you’ve got this, or anything else that would help get you through.  

So, how about you?  Tell me how you get through this time of year!  I’d love to hear from you.