Do the holidays stress you out?
Then, you’re in good company.
Most people find the typical holiday hustle and bustle hectic, robbing them of the joy of the season. The good news is, this year can be different. Keep reading to discover 9 tips for how to beat holiday stress.
How to Avoid Holiday Stress
So how do you beat holiday stress? Well, in order to beat it, it’s important to understand why the holidays stress us out.
How Holidays Affect Mental Health
When I talk to women just like us, there are few recurring stressors burdening us during the holidays.
- Extra responsibilities – We already have busy schedules which makes the extra errands and responsibilities that come with the holidays overwhelming.
- Family Dynamics – Choosing who to spend the holidays with or worrying about how everyone will get along is a huge stressor.
- Financial Stress – The holiday season brings a lot of extra expenses. Worrying about going into debt or wondering how you’re going to pay for everything is definitely stressful.
All of this added stress can lead to holiday stress that shows up in a variety of ways.
Holiday Anxiety Symptoms
No one wants to feel that way during what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, so let’s look for ways to limit holiday stress. Please keep in mind, I’m not a doctor nor am I making any type of diagnosis. I’m simply someone like you who has lived with and observed these symptoms.
- Withdrawal – preferring to be alone rather than gather with family and friends. Isolating yourself or making excuses to skip out on festivities.
- Worry/Anxiety – preoccupation with all there is to do and chronic worrying over spending
- Decision Fatigue – complete overwhelm resulting in the inability to make a decision whether it’s what outfit to wear to for Christmas photos, deciding on a holiday budget or who should be on your gift list, picking Christmas cards
- Depression or Holiday Blues – experiencing an overall low mood that can be hard to snap out of
- Physical aches and pains or fatigue – stress inevitably shows up in our bodies. So it’s no wonder we get headaches, experience muscle tension, or are just plain tired.
No one wants that, so let’s look for ways to limit holiday stress.
9 Tips to Avoid Holiday Stress
These first couple of tips help eliminate decision fatigue and frees you to spend your time and energy on what matters most; enjoying the holiday season.
Simplify Gift Giving
Between coming up with gift ideas, to shopping and gift wrapping, gift giving can be completely overwhelming. But, you can reduce holiday stress with these practical tips.
- Set a budget and stick to it – Make a shopping list and establish a budget based on what you can afford. You can find really great gifts at any price point which makes sticking to your budget easier. If you find a gift that is below budget, even better. You don’t have to max out your limit.
- Organize your gift wrap – Avoid holiday stress by keeping all your wrapping supplies in one easily accessible place. Cut down on how much you have to organize by creating your own signature look. I use brown or white butcher paper and/or craft bags depending on the size and shape of the gift. Then, use ribbon, stickers, paint, free-hand drawing, or stencils to embellish the gift wrap.
- Make gift grapping fun – Set a date on your calendar for wrapping. Make it fun by pouring your favorite beverage and adding a little background music. Get lost in the scene; thinking of each person and recalling fond memories as you wrap their gift, expressing your creativity with bow making and ribbon tying or learning a new skill like making our own gift bags. (I was so proud of myself when I did that the first time.)
- Practice mindful gift giving – Marketers would have you believe that holiday shopping is a race or something you need to catch up on. They want you to succumb to the “Early Bird” and “Last-Minute” labels and Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, so you’ll spend your money. The truth is, buying a gift to check off a list becomes clutter for the recipient as well as time and money you can’t get back. But, you’re savvy. You know that as long as you have what you need by the time you need it, you’re right on time.
Be Intentional About Self-Care This Holiday Season
It may seem impossible to practice self care during such a hectic season, but it’s necessary if you want to actually enjoy the holidays instead of just survive them. These simple holiday self care tips will make it easy.
- Plan Your Holiday Outfits – If you have a handful of wardrobe basics you can create several mix and match outfits for the holiday season. Not thinking about what you’re going to wear is an easy way to reduce holiday stress.
- Ask for help – You do not have to do it all. When you let someone help, not only are you freeing yourself, you are giving someone work. So, please delegate.
- Hire a cleaning lady.
- Let someone else hang the lights.
- Make a tradition of having the whole family participate in decorating the house.
- Order your groceries online.
Then, go in peace.
- Remember to breathe. Literally. Pause every now and then to take a few deep breaths. It’s like pressing the reset button on your nervous system.
Create a Holiday Checklist
One year, as we prepared to celebrate our wedding anniversary, Matt’s birthday, and Christmas, all in one week, I realized busy is just a state of mind. Here are some simple ways to shift the busy mindset.
- Make your to-do list and check it twice – You know how you write a to-do list on Monday, and by Friday when you haven’t quite managed to do it all, you’re suddenly able to prioritize that list down to two or three must do items? Do that for Christmas. Make your list according to what matters most, even if it means scratching a few things off, because you’d much rather be present than busy.
- Schedule your errands – Taking the time to schedule your holiday errands gives you an opportunity to space them out and allow plenty time to get them done.
Prepare for Guests
Remember, it’s about hospitality, in other words, how you make your guests feel, not what the house looks like. So, pat yourself on the back. You did the hardest part by opening your home to someone.
With that in mind, hosting will be less stressful with a few preparations.
- Declutter your kitchen well ahead of time to make room for holiday cooking and entertaining.
- Tidy guest spaces – Change the sheets on the beds, give the guest bathroom a once-over and stock up on travel toiletries in case your guests forget something. Then call it done.
- Set Boundaries to Avoid Family Conflict – Establishing boundaries is a great way to avoid family conflict. You’ll be surprised at how relieved you feel just by having a plan in place.
Ultimately, following these tips will allow you to bask in the wonder of the holiday season. There’s no better way to beat holiday stress than being fully present in the moment.