9 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

It's the most wonderful time of the year! (maybe?)

The holiday season always brings-up a mixture of emotions. Some individuals love this time of year, while others may be reminded of loved ones who are passed. Many are excited to spend time with family, while others dread interacting with their family members. 

With that said, there are many reasons to be stressed this holiday season. Finances, relationships, mental health struggles, work, school, and many other components add to the stress of this time of year. 

Below are some tips to reduce your stress of the holidays:

1. Set boundaries

  • This may seem impossible (especially if you've never done this before), but I believe this is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress for the holidays. Many individuals feel overwhelmed because they have many family members who want to spend time with them. The truth is, you can't see everyone you love in one day- and if you do, you're either very organized and/or going to be extremely burnt-out. When you tell other people what your expectations are for the holidays, it gives them an opportunity to understand your perspective. For example, say your parents are divorced and both parents want you to visit them, but you only have time to visit one person. You can let them both know that you only have time to drive to one house this Christmas/New Year (whatever you celebrate). You can also offer the option of having them both come to your house. Realistically, they might argue with you, but you can stand firm in your boundary and give them the opportunity to understand it. Setting boundaries can also cause stress, but the more you practice setting boundaries the easier it gets!    

2. Prioritize

  • What is most important to you this holiday season? Here are some examples of priorities:
    • your faith
    • family
    • friends/ loved ones
    • being financially stable
    • health (including mental health!)
    • having fun/ being happy
  • Once you know your top priorities, it is easier to manage the holiday season. If family is your #1 priority, you can let your job/school/obligations know that you are focusing on your family and that you may need to take a few days off (some people do not have jobs where they get that luxury, but hopefully this example helps with understanding prioritizing).

3. Stop pleasing everyone

  • It's true- you cannot please everyone. No matter what you do, someone is likely to have their feelings hurt. All you can do is your best at discerning what is right. It's okay if other people get hurt by the boundaries you set. This gives you an opportunity to discuss more about this situation. 

4. Communicate

  • I've known several people who have an idea of what they want to do for the holidays, but they do not communicate their plan to their loved ones! This can cause so much anger, arguing, and misunderstanding. Communicating can prevent a lot of miscommunication. 

5. Give heartfelt gifts over expensive ones

  • A big stressor for the holidays is finances. Gifts can be so expensive (especially if you have kids)! I suggest giving gifts that take more time, than money. Here are some ideas:
    • a day to do what the receiver wants
    • writing a poem or song
    • writing a heartfelt letter 
    • making a video
    • making a dance for them
    • photo album
    • baked goods
    • diy ornament
    • drawing a picture

6. Try to plan-it-out

  • Organize your holidays before people start asking you about your plans! You can always change your plans, but the idea is that you will already know what you hope to do for this holiday season without feeling like your missing something by doing it last minute!

7. Take time to rest and recharge

  • Many people take a couple days/ weeks off from work or school and don't feel rested after the break! This is likely due to not actually resting during the break! Make sure you plan a day or two to actually rest during your holiday break! Here is a post on how to take a break!

8. Take time to mourn

  • Many people have lost loved ones in the past couple years. This can make the holiday season so difficult. I suggest allowing yourself to mourn over your loved one and mourn with others. It is difficult to deal with the feelings of loss, but this process may provide some insight into your mourning process and release some unconscious stress.

9. Do something fun

  • My last tip to reduce stress this holiday season is to do something that you consider fun! Whether that looks like watching a movie, going ice skating, or having friends over... find time to do something you enjoy (and maybe bring some friends along for the fun)!

This holiday season looks a lot different than in past years- there are new and continuing stressors. I suggest trying at least 1 or 2 of these tips! I hope that your holiday season is a bit less stressful! 
I know you are going to do great things!

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