It's that time of year again - the holidays are just around the corner! For many people, this time of year is a joyous and festive occasion. But for others, the holidays can be a stressful and difficult time.
While you might not be able to avoid holiday stress and anxiety entirely, there are some things you can do to manage feeling too overwhelmed.
To reduce holiday season stress, make sure you plan ahead, take time for yourself, set boundaries when you need to, and make a point to appreciate the little things.
Don’t feel like you need to do it all or that everything needs to go perfectly. Also don’t forget to prioritize your own needs and wants.
Between preparing large family meals, coordinating multiple events and schedules, selecting and buying gifts, decorating your home, and much more, the holidays can be a lot for one person to manage on their own.
While you might not be able to avoid holiday stress and anxiety entirely, there are some things you can do to manage feeling too overwhelmed. As you approach the holiday season, here are some do’s and don’ts that can help you manage your stress.
1. Do plan ahead
One of the best things you can do to reduce holiday stress is to plan. This might mean making a list of the people you need to buy gifts for and what you would like to get them, getting holiday events on the calendar several weeks in advance, or developing a low-stress menu for a family holiday dinner. You can also start looking for sales and deals ahead of time, so you can get the best prices on the items you need. By taking some time to plan, you can help reduce the stress of the holiday season and enjoy the time with your loved ones.
2. Don’t try to do it all
The holidays are a time when you might feel the desire to go all out for your loved ones. While this can be fun, it can also be overwhelming. Trying to do it all can lead to stress and burnout, so it's important to pull back to what’s realistic.
Choose a few things that are most important to you and focus on those. For instance, limit the number of events that your family chooses to host or attend. You can also think about how to delegate holiday preparation tasks, such as putting your spouse in charge of the holiday meal while you manage gifts for the kids or even asking your relatives to bring a dish to share so less meal preparation falls on your plate. You'll be able to enjoy the holidays more when you're not trying to do everything.
3. Do make time and space for yourself
You might be focusing a lot more on other people this time of year. Although it’s nice to do things for others, try to set aside some time each day to relax and focus on taking care of yourself. Whether you're taking a long walk, reading your favorite book, or spending time with loved ones, make sure to take some time for yourself. By taking these steps, you can help make the holiday season a little bit more enjoyable.
4. Don’t strive for perfection
The media and pop culture have a way of creating a magical, albeit unrealistic, image of the holiday season. Try not to let this ideal vision of a perfect holiday season give you unrealistic expectations or make you feel like things need to go perfectly.
Instead, focus on creating meaningful memories with your loved ones and enjoying the simple pleasures of the season. Accept that things might not go perfectly or exactly according to plan, and instead appreciate the time with your loved ones. This will help you to create lasting memories, rather than stressing about making everything perfect.
5. Do set boundaries
Setting boundaries can be an excellent way to manage holiday stress and anxiety. Whether it's setting a budget for gifts, saying no to certain events, or deliberately taking time for yourself, setting boundaries can help you manage stress and enjoy the holiday season. You may find that your boundaries disappoint others, but they are an important step to avoid becoming overwhelmed and stressed out, and instead have a calm and enjoyable holiday season.
6. Don’t forget your own needs and wants
The holiday season is a time when we dedicate a great deal of mental space and energy to other people’s wants and needs. We worry about what gifts to buy, whether we’re going to see family or friends, and how to make the season special for those we care about. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget our priorities.
Don’t forget to consider your own needs and wants - maybe your Aunt Linda really wants to see you and your kids on Christmas Eve, but you would prefer to have a quiet evening at home. You’re allowed to prioritize what you want by staying home, even if it makes your relatives feel unhappy or disappointed.
7. Do appreciate the little things
The holiday season can be a truly magical time of year. Instead of stressing about what hasn’t gone perfectly, make a point to appreciate the little things. Whether it's spending time with family and friends, enjoying the festive decorations and lights, having your kids home for an extended period, or simply taking a moment to reflect on the year gone by, the holiday season is a special time to cherish the things that matter most. Make an effort to practice mindfulness and gratitude in appreciating your holiday experience.