The last month of the year is supposed to be all about joy, giving, and creating wonderful memories with family and friends. In reality, we know that this period has another side – a darker side that involves stress, irritation, and sometimes even anger.
This can be the result of having to shop for Christmas gifts for everyone, which could mean stressing over finances and braving the crowds at the mall, among others. For those who go to family gatherings, there is always one relative or two that can get your blood pressure up.
It doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t reduce holiday stress. Going back to the main reason for the holidays will help you deal with different situations.
Here are more specific ways you can reduce holiday stress.
Have the right mindset
As I mentioned earlier, remember why you are celebrating the holidays. Why do you get together with family and friends year after year? What is the reason for the festivities?
If you think about these things, you can get into the right mindset and be ready to face whatever it is that usually ups your stress levels.
You can also write down some mantras that will help you get over your “holiday issues”. We have written about this before (17 Simple Mantras to Get You Through Christmas Angst). Some examples:
- These people are my family, I should give them a second chance.
- I don’t dislike that person, I dislike their behavior.
- This person will be gone one day, is this argument worth it?
What other mantras can you come up with?
Get the kids involved
Sometimes, it’s having to deal with the overabundance of the children’s energy that makes the holiday gatherings stressful. You can reduce holiday stress due to this factor by involving the kids in your planning. Before you embark on that road trip to grandma’s, talk to your children and lay down ground rules. Ask them if they can behave, and how they think they can be good boys and girls during the trip and the gathering/s. Get input from them. This will make the entire trip a collaborative effort, increasing the chances of the kids getting on board.
Skip the usual festivities
If you can, why not just skip Christmas? It’s really as simple as that.
I understand that some people cannot do this due to family obligations, the children, and even the desire to actually see family and friends whom they might not have seen all year long. That desire may war against the thought of holiday stress, but if you can make the decision to not spend Christmas with extended family, why not? That will reduce holiday stress for you – a lot.
Do Christmas differently
If you can’t totally miss out on Christmas, why not change things up? Find other activities that you look forward to doing during the holidays and make plans to do them. Having these plans will give you something to look forward to, giving you a well of cheer/joy/good mood to draw upon when holiday stress strikes.
Here are some ideas to celebrate Christmas differently.
No matter how you spend the holidays, there will always be one stressor or another. It all boils down to preparing yourself for what’s to come and deciding that you will make the most of things. If you’re already feeling the stress set in, go through the above tips once again. You’ll be armed with the tools to make the holidays the happy, cheerful time they should be.
First published in December 2014; updated December 2021
While I didn’t skip the holidays this year, I was able to cut down on the parties/activities that I’ve always found boring – of course, without saying it’s boring. I just said that I had a lot on my plate, and found that people were really understanding because they too were stressed out. Limiting myself to one or two obligations per day throughout the holiday season allowed me to enjoy myself a lot more.