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How To Reduce Stress During The Holidays by Michele Harvey

There are any number of things which can stress us out during the holidays, from money worries, to relationship issues, to time constraints. Seasonal social gatherings, which are supposed to be enjoyable, can turn out to be a minefield for sufferers of stress, particularly when these come in the form of an office party or family gathering which many people look forward to with dread rather than delight. Read on and you will learn how to reduce stress ahead of the holidays. This way, you can sail serenely into the holidays armed with specific stress management tactics that you know will work.

The key is to make a plan. Deliberately determine how you choose to spend both your time and your money this year instead of merely repeating what you have done in the past. Recognize that you have undergone tremendous personal growth during the past year, and your priorities and perspective may have changed considerably. Therefore, you want to focus on those areas that you deem to be vital to your own fulfillment and will bring the most joy to your loved ones. Once you gain this clarity about your own priorities it will be easy to eliminate a number of things from your typical list of preparations.

When it comes to stress caused by money worries, the best thing to do is set a Christmas budget and stick to it. Once you have your budget in place, allocate funds within it for separate Christmas necessities such as food and presents. All too often we are tempted to overspend when we hit the shops. Going armed with a detailed list and sticking to it is an excellent way to avoid this temptation, and the confusion created by the multitude of options and deals offered in stores.

Sticking within budget on food will also help reduce stress in the weeks ahead when the post-holiday bills start coming in. Spending wisely before the holidays ensures you won’t have to deal with the anxiety of paying bills you cannot afford. Similarly, when it comes to present buying, set a limit for each gift or go the homemade route. There is nothing more delightful than receiving a thoughtful gift, made with love and care. In this difficult economic period, many of us have learned to appreciate far more the value of someone’s time and effort. Reducing your financial stress over the holidays will help you stay calm and centered.

Having reduced your monetary stress at Christmas, you will be in a better position to tackle any potential relational stress over the holiday season. To do so effectively, it is important that you set boundaries and reduce your expectations. Do not allow old hurts or issues to arise, and refuse to be drawn into arguments old or new. Simply let aggravating or provocative behavior pass you by, rather than letting it upset or stress you. Above all, do not expect anyone to behave perfectly – not even you! It is unrealistic to especially during the holidays when families spend far more time together and the pace of life is more hectic than usual.

Follow these tips on how to reduce stress at holiday time and you find yourself able to enjoy the festive season with a far more relaxed attitude. This, in turn, will keep stress symptoms in check, and stop you from falling victim to a stress spiral where your stressed reactions give rise to yet more symptoms and so on. Keep your sense of humor intact and your attitude flexible, and you will not go wrong. Remember that it is up to you to show others how to treat you. Respect yourself and your own limits over the holidays, and you will find that you are more refreshed going into the New Year.

For ways to improve your personal growth in 2016, you will benefit from my new book, From Confusion to Clarity-Vital Personal Growth in 30 Days or Less, which is a great addition to your reading list for the New Year.

22 Responses to How To Reduce Stress During The Holidays by Michele Harvey

  • Tuhin says:

    Thanks for this timely post.
    I am going on a holiday week to Southern part of India in Mid-December with a few friends. We have been planning this trip well in advance to thrash the stress and unnecessary post holiday headaches and pressures. Let us see how everything goes!
    I will keep the points you mentioned here(especially the monetary part) in mind.

  • Really great tips.
    I know no matter what kind of budget I do, I always go over. At least setting a budget, the amount I go over is still less than if I did not have a budget in the first place.
    Thanks for sharing these timely tips with us.

    • It’s good to maintain a long range view when it comes to spending money over the holidays, since we want to go into the new year with positive intentions. If you will be more grateful later on for having made particular purchases, then go for it. If you think you will experience buyers remorse down the road, compromise and choose moderation. When shopping in stores, bring a certain amount of cash with you and leave your credit cards at home. Thank you for your comment, William. Happy Holidays to you and yours.

  • heraldmarty says:

    Well said. It’s not like we don’t know ahead of time what to expect, and as you’ve pointed out there are many things we can do to align expectations with our holiday reality. Thanks for the tips and inspiration.

    • Some folks have selective memory and they tend to block out their holiday reality. Being true to oneself and allowing time for oneself is helpful and is a way of gifting yourself, rather than focusing only on pleasing others. For example, it helps to stick with your routine in terms of meditation and physical exercise as these things keep us centered and reduce stress. Thank you for your comment, Marquita. Wishing you a happy holiday season.

  • Thanks for sharing these great reminders for the holidays. I start planning at the beginning of November. It helps us a lot because that is when the grocery stores have the sales on the groceries staple items I need. It saves me a ton of money and helps me plan out my meals and cookie making gift planning. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ken Dowell says:

    The main source of holiday stress for me is my in-laws, each one of which is wound more tightly than the next. Since they’ll all be arriving for Thanksgiving dinner, my stress-reducting strategy is to spend every minute cooking.

    • We like to go around the table and have each person share in advance, what they are grateful for having achieved or having realized over the next year (as though it has already occurred.) We call it gratitude in advance and can be a powerful tool for manifestation. Thank you for your comment, Ken. Wishing you a relaxing holiday season.

  • Donna Janke says:

    Having a plan can help reduce holiday season stress if you really think about what is important and fulfilling to you and only include those things in the plan. Just because it’s something you’ve always done doesn’t mean it needs to be done this year. And something that gave you fulfillment in the past but now feels more like a chore doesn’t need to be continued. We create a lot of pressure on ourselves by thinking so many things NEED to be done.

    • Yes, Donna! I agree with everything you have said. We are creatures of habit and often need to stop and think about whether what we are doing and planning actually serves us and makes us happy, or whether we are planning and doing things because we think it will make others happy. We need to be able to communicate our needs and adjust or plans when they no longer suit us and to make our feelings gently known to others. This could reduce stress and create a more meaningful holiday season for everyone. Thank you for your comment. Have a lovely holiday time.

  • Great suggestions for people who get stressed by Christmas & the New Year. Personally the holiday season doesn’t stress me at all.

    • The holidays are generally not stressful for me either, unless I am traveling, which this year, I am not. It is quite a stressful time for many others, however. Thank you for dropping by and sharing your comment, Catarina! Wishing you a wonderful winter season.

  • Phoenicia says:

    I am amazed at how much emphasis some people place on buying presents, expensive ones too. It seems the more you spend on family members, the more you love them!

    Christmas should not be a competition on who bought or received the most gifts. Yet it appears to be heading this way.

    I do not like waste, whether food or items.

    • Yes, Phoenicia! What you say is true and it adds a great deal of stress to what should be a joyful and relaxing time of year. Thank you for your comment. I wish you a bright and beautiful holiday season.

  • Erica says:

    It is really sad that the demands of the holidays put such pressure on people. I’m sure the holiday season was so different during the days before the retail giants created the culture of consumerism. You offer some very good advice for getting through the holidays with your sanity intact.

    • I agree that the true spirit of the holiday season must have been much more attainable and more meaningful as well, before the advent of our consumer culture. I’m so glad you find my pointers valuable, Erica. Thank you for your comment. Have a wonderful holiday season.

  • Beth Niebuhr says:

    I think that the answer to reducing stress in almost any situation is to have a plan. And then relax, knowing that all will be okay.

    • I agree, Beth. When we allow some quiet time for ourselves amidst the holiday chaos, as we all need to re-group from time to time, to make sure we are actually aligned with ourselves and our plan, (and a plan is best if it holds some room for being flexible, as well.) Thank you for sharing your comment. Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving!

  • lenie5860 says:

    This is great information Michele. I like the money part – set the budget. that is so important. I also like the statement that not to expect anyone – including yourself – to be perfect. If we can just accept people as they are we can probably enjoy them more.

    • Yes, there is no reason to face the dreaded consequences of being in debt after the holidays. There are so many ways to express love and caring that do not involve large sums of money. Thank you for your comment, Lenie. Happy Holidays.

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