How to Handle Holiday Stress

Published by Catherine Durkin Robinson on

There’s a lot going on during the holidays. The kids are home from school. You’re planning to either go to a few gatherings or host them yourself. Perhaps you’re all going out of town. In between parties and meals, you’re trying to keep the kids entertained. Then there’s shopping, cleaning and staying connected with loved ones far away. And if all that wasn’t enough, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. It’s a lot. Here’s how to handle holiday stress so you can still enjoy yourself this season.

Set your intentions every morning.

Sometimes, we can’t help what happens to us, but we can help how we react to it. Before you get out of bed each morning, make it a habit to think about the day ahead. Get your brain and psyche ready by thinking about how to stay positive.

Be kind.

Random acts of kindness to others help foster good feelings within yourself. Practice smiling, even if you don’t feel like it. Psychologists say this can trick our brains into generating positive chemical reactions. We feel better as a result.

Accept imperfection.

We put too much pressure on ourselves around the holidays. Then we get disappointed when things don’t turn out as perfect as we had planned. Accepting that you aren’t infallible, and neither are loved ones, can help take some of that pressure off and allow more enjoyment in.  

Get comfortable setting boundaries.

Saying no is okay although sometimes it takes some practice. You can’t possibly do everything. Trust yourself and know your limits. This is true for work, family and friends.

Practice gratitude. 

A helpful daily practice of “counting your blessings” can cut holiday stress in half. If you take the added step of expressing that gratitude, with a text or message of love to someone, it can boost happiness at the same time.  

Acknowledge what you’re feeling. 

Take a moment to cry if you need to – it can be cathartic. Call a supportive friend and vent if that makes you feel better. Oftentimes we just need to acknowledge what’s going on inside us and then we can better get on with our day.

Have fun. 

Do activities you enjoy. At least one, every day.

Enroll your kids in a winter break camp to reduce holiday stress.

Click here to give yourself a break. At a KidzToPros winter break camp, your kids can learn fun new STEM skills while having a good time with friends. This will allow you to run errands, do last-minute shopping or take time for yourself.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Use moments of irritation or frustration to reflect upon yourself. Take deep breaths when you’re stuck in traffic or waiting in a long line at the store. Take that moment to text a happy holidays message to someone. Or smile at a person who seems at his wit’s end. If you won’t be upset about this a week from now, it isn’t important enough to ruin your day now.

Just adjust. 

The only constant in life is change. Therefore, learn to let go and be more flexible. Families change. Children grow up. Find ways to evolve as well with your traditions, rituals, and plans.

Connect with your people. 

Seek out community or religious groups where you can find good friends and a support system. These can be virtual or in-person groups.

Help others.

Lending a hand to others will help you feel good, too. Volunteer your time with a group that could use your help this holiday season.

Don’t overspend.

Stick to your budget. Think about how good you’ll feel with less debt in the new year.

Keep up your healthy habits. 

Many people deal with stress by overeating or drinking too much. This is especially true during the holidays. Fight the urge to eat or drink your feelings. Instead, buy less junk food. Stock healthy food in your fridge and pantry. Schedule naps if you’re not sleeping well at night. And plan for daily walks if you can’t get regular exercise.

Take care of you.

In order to take care of others properly, you must take care of yourself first. Sneak in self-care where you can. Whether it’s during your daily drive or two extra minutes in bed before you get up in the morning. Close your eyes and try to meditate or just take deep breaths. This can help restore some inner calm.

Savor each good moment.

Soak in the positive. When you catch yourself enjoying a wonderful moment, really take it in. Studies show that the longer we do that, the longer that positive experience will live in our memory. This regular practice of savoring leads to more sustainable happiness in the long run.

Practice generosity. 

In every community, there are people in need. If you want to lessen holiday stress, take a look around your house. Are there any clothes or canned goods you can donate to a local shelter? Getting outside yourself is often the best medicine toward making yourself feel good.

Get help. 

There’s no shame in seeking professional guidance. Therapists, in their office or online, can help with strategies to lessen holiday stress. These are strategies that work all year long.

Consider your resolutions for the new year.

Planning ahead can sometimes help people feel more at ease during the present moment. However, go easy on yourself. If you have a big goal coming up, start with small steps. What do you need to do in the first month? The first quarter of the year? Make it a more realistic goal with smaller steps that build upon one another.

There is enormous personal and commercial pressure to make this “the best time of the year.” Therefore, put steps in place to prevent stress in the first place. With a little planning and some positive thinking, plus the helpful hints above, you can find peace and joy rather than holiday stress this season.


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