How To Survive and Thrive During the Holidays – Holiday Stress Edition

How can you we get through the holidays more stress free?

Managing holiday stress can feel like an impossible task, but by exploring some ideas shared here you will see that it is possible.  After all, the holidays are not just about running around trying to please everyone.  That desire to please others and be everywhere for everyone can leave you feeling both depleted and resentful.

Instead, these ideas can help keep the stress and overwhelm at bay allowing more time for fun, enjoyment and connection.

1.  Allow yourself to feel what you feel.

It could be anger, fear, sadness, fulfillment or joy. The key is allowing those emotions to be experienced and processed in a space without judgement or self-criticism.  In fact, feeling these different emotions is normal and expected.  So if certain feelings are showing up, then this can be your bodies ways of asking for more support. Recognizing and addressing these feelings where you feel safe can be a great stress relief.  By acknowledging these feelings we can then make room for what brings us joy, understanding and comfort.

2.  Take it one day at a time.

Don’t try taking on the whole holiday season as one big continuous event.  That approach can be both exhausting and overwhelming.  Why not instead take it one day at a time?

Seeing this time of year in a way where it is looked at in small increments can make all the tasks and responsibilities feel much more manageable.  

3.  Delegate tasks / simplify that to-do list

One way to make this season less stressful is to see what tasks you can delegate or share with others to lighten the load.  For instance, do you really need to make a special trip to the mall for that particular gift or can you can purchase it online instead?

How about wrapping presents?

I know last year some of my family members fell very behind on wrapping presents so I offered to wrap all the gifts (except my own of course!) because that meant I could stay home by the warm fire and have some quiet time.

While I was busy wrapping gifts and listening to holiday music, other family members were willing to brave the mall and grocery stores to get what they needed and what I needed too.  This coordinated effort in coming together as a family helped all of us get more done while feeling less stressed and overwhelmed.

4.  Work together or hire someone

Do you really need to prepare all the food for an event you are hosting? 

Maybe you can ask friends to bring certain items so you do not have to prepare everything yourself.  You could also arrange a holiday party that is co-hosted by you and a friend to help relieve some of the stress of hosting a party.  Sharing the responsibility takes off some of the pressure especially when the tasks are split between you both equally.

Another idea is to hire a catering company to better manage holiday stress.

The holidays do not mean you have to spend countless hours stressing and fussing over the food you are preparing.  This easily can get overwhelming and tiring leaving you feeling exhausted even before your guests arrive.  You might realize that bringing in catered food will be more expensive, but that the investment is worth it.  That additional cost could end up saving you on time and energy while also bringing down your stress.  A less stressed you means you get to relax more and enjoy the party with your guests.  After all, that is what the holidays are really about.

5.  Ask for help from loved ones

With all the hustle and bustle this time of year can bring, it can be hard for us to simply ask for help.   It is more important than ever to communicate with loved ones what you need most in order to get through the holidays.   Asking for help can make a big difference in lowering stress and having a more pleasant holiday experience.

6. Time for Yourself

The holidays are also about you taking care of you.

What big or small treats can you set up for yourself to get through this busy time of year?

Maybe scheduling in a manicure, a massage, or setting time aside for a nature walk will keep stress at bay.  Others might turn to a good book, funny movie or a nice bath to unwind and relax.

The trick is actually writing it in your schedule or programming it into your online calendar as a reminder.  This tip is mentioned by therapist Melvin Varghese Ph.D. in the Therapy Chat podcast episode on Holiday Stress Tips.  I have a link to that episode at the end of this article.

Using an online calendar can help reinforce the idea that these self-care practices are just as important as the other activities you have added in your schedule.  These self-care activities can help us to stay recharged and focused in getting though that holiday to-do list.

7.  It is okay to say no

It is impossible to please everyone all the time so remember that you do not have to say yes to every invitation sent your way.  For instance, just because you typically travel out-of-state to spend the holidays with family does not mean you have to do that every year.

Check in with yourself and your immediate family to see what makes sense for everyone.  Maybe there is just too much going on with the children with their activities, so traveling out of town would be too much to take on this year.

Allowing yourself to say no to the events or commitments that do not bring you joy or are stressful is okay.  It is possible that others will not be happy with some of these decisions, but at the end of the day it is your holiday just as much as it is theirs.

Setting boundaries and managing expectations can be the greatest gift you give yourself this year.

Please let me know what you think about this article and if you are feeling overwhelmed by the holidays please call me for a free consultation to see how I can best support you.

This post was inspired by a podcast episode from Laura Reagan’s Therapy Chat called Holiday Stress Tips. You can click here to hear the full episode with excellent tips and suggestions on ways to manage stress from therapists (including me) from all across the country.

Daniela Paolone

Daniela Paolone is a Marriage and Family Therapist and founder of Westlake Village Counseling serving residents of California and Wyoming. She helps those working through pain, illness, depression and anxiety using a secure online counseling platform ensuring client confidentiality. Using education, helpful resources, unconditional support and understanding, she strives to help people transform their pain into power so they can live their best lives!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 16 comments
Norine - December 5, 2016

Such great tips, Daniela! This is so helpful at a time of year when many people struggle to manage even their day to day tasks. Thank you!

Daniela Paolone - December 5, 2016

So happy to hear that Norine! Yes I agree about the struggle to keep up with everything, especially during this time of year.

Jessica Cowling - December 6, 2016

Wonderful ideas for simplifying life a bit!

Daniela Paolone - December 6, 2016

Glad you find it helpful Jessica! Life can easily get too complicated but there are some ways around it.

Michelle Farris - December 11, 2016

These are great tips – very helpful! Slowing down and being more mindful of what we need really makes a difference! Thanks Daniela!

Daniela Paolone - December 11, 2016

Glad to hear you liked that section where I talk about mindfulness Michelle!

Dalila - October 26, 2017

Great tips. IT’s interesting how we forget the simplest things, such as “ask for help.”

    Daniela Paolone - October 26, 2017

    Yes so true Dalila. Asking for help can make such a difference in feeling less stressed and more connected with loved ones during the holidays.

Lisa Larsen, PsyD - October 26, 2017

I like the idea of pooling labor for things like gift wrapping or grocery shopping! I also think that simplified gift giving like a white elephant party can reduce economic stress.

    Daniela Paolone - October 26, 2017

    Yes that is a great point Lisa. I should have addressed the economic stress aspect since that is something many people experience. Thank you for mentioning that! I really enjoyed wrapping presents and staying away from the shopping madness; even if it meant I was literally wrapping gifts for hours!

Paige Flamm - October 27, 2017

These are all awesome tips!

Sara Rogers - October 27, 2017

Thanks so much for this post. I really struggle around the Holidays. I happen to be from Sweden, my husband is from Louisiana, US. We reside i New Orleans since last year, after we got married. I’ve spent the past two Christmases in the US and am so ready to spend one in Sweden. Feels like whatever we choose to do, someone will get disappointed. The struggle, I guess we just have to follow our hearts, hopefully I can talk my hubby into going to Sweden for this one. Lovely blog! Found you via Bloggers Supporting Each Other.

    Daniela Paolone - October 27, 2017

    Thank you so much Sara for sharing your thoughts about how the holidays can be difficult when trying to please everyone. It is not easy and I sure hope you get to spend the holidays in Sweden this year! Nice to connect with you here from the Blogger group too 🙂

Nicki - October 27, 2017

This is really great advice I have already started planning for the holidays now so that I don’t get too overwhelmed near the time it seems to work for me.

    Daniela Paolone - October 27, 2017

    Glad to hear that what is shared in here is helpful for you Nicki. Planning ahead saves me a lot of stress and worry too. Appreciate hearing your perspective!

Bitter Chocos - October 27, 2017

great ideas. this made my day and I love that gift wraping


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