Holiday stress is as real as holiday cheer. While holidays are the best time of the year to relax, rewind and swim in celebrations, they are also the most stressful time of the year. Hence, today in this blog, I am talking about some simple and practical ways to destress yourself during the holidays.
The holiday season prepares you for so much love, laughter, and quality time with your loved ones. Cleaning the house, dressing up in your favorite dresses, cooking delicious food, praying together and so much more, it is indeed the best time of the year.
Personally, I look forward to November and December because it gives us so many reasons for having frequent family get-togethers. Diwali is a big thing in India and lately, Christmas has come near to it with all the cheer and happiness it brings.
But, along with all the good times and happiness it brings, you cannot ignore the holiday stress that accompanies that joyful mood and affects you from time to time. It’s no longer a secret that holidays also bring a fair share of stress and anxiety.
While you might get used to dealing with everyday stress, holiday stress makes it a little more difficult. It makes you feel suffocated with all the responsibilities, especially if you’re a host. From the pressure of finding the perfect gifts to juggling social obligations and managing finances, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Fortunately, there are ways to navigate this busy time without sacrificing your peace of mind. In this blog, we will explore practical tips to help you avoid holiday stress and make the most of this special season.
How can you help yourself with the holiday stress in 2023?
Managing holiday stress might feel like another thing to stress about. But, to save you from adding it to your pilling list of things to stress about, let’s first understand some potential reasons for your high stress during the holidays. This will help you to prepare for the season before time.
Why am I stressed during holidays? What causes holiday stress?
While holiday stress is inevitable for an adult, here are some reasons that might be pushing you to that threshold:
1. High Expectations
The holiday season makes people entitled to have expectations. This can easily lead to stress if those expectations aren’t met. Whether it’s the pressure to create the perfect holiday atmosphere, buy the best gifts, or host those flawless gatherings, the desire for perfection can make you feel overwhelmed.
2. Financial Pressure
Holidays and the festive season often come with increased expenses, including gifts, travel, decorations, and parties. Managing your urge to splurge and save simultaneously can easily add to your stress. The financial strain and worries about overspending can also spike your anxiety during this time.
3. Time Constraints
The holiday season is often filled with numerous activities and commitments, like shopping, parties, family gatherings, home decor, and travel. Trying to juggle all these responsibilities within a limited amount of time is a genuine reason for feeling stressed and exhausted.
4. Family Dynamics
Spending time with family during the holidays can be both enjoyable and stressful. While you may love to spend time with your loved ones, holidays can also bring you in contact with some toxic family members. Past conflicts, grudges, strained relationships, or differing expectations can also create tension and contribute to your holiday stress.
5. Loneliness or Loss
If you live away from your family or you have lost someone in recent times, then it is completely normal to feel alone and stressed. While everyone around you is all jazzed up, it is justified for you to mellow down and stay in your shell. The holiday season can intensify feelings of loneliness and sadness, which can lead to emotional strain.
Now that you have learned the possible reasons for holiday stress, let us understand how can you prepare ahead for the holiday stress along with the festive season:
How to make holidays less stressful?
1. Plan Ahead and Set Realistic Expectations
One of the major sources of holiday stress is feeling overwhelmed by a never-ending to-do list. To help yourself with this, start by planning ahead. Create a detailed schedule, including even the smallest tasks like gift shopping, holiday meal preparation, and decorating. Break down these tasks into smaller, manageable steps and assign specific deadlines. By spreading out your tasks over a longer period, you will avoid last-minute panic.
Also, be realistic with yourself. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself and others. Remember that holidays don’t have to be picture-perfect. Embrace imperfections and prioritize what truly matters—spending quality time with loved ones. Let go of the pressure to have everything flawless and focus on creating meaningful memories.
2. Practice Self Care and Wellness
The hustle and bustle of the holidays can make you step away from self care, even when this is the time when you need it the most. Thus, take time for yourself each day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Indulge in self care activities that will improve your relationship with yourself. Prioritizing self care will help you maintain balance and keep you away from the holiday stress.
Mindfulness is another powerful tool to cultivate inner peace. Practice being fully present at the moment, savoring the joy and beauty of each experience. Engage all your senses—admire the twinkling lights, savor the flavors of holiday treats, and truly listen to the laughter and conversations around you. By immersing yourself in the present, you can let go of worries about the future or past, reducing stress and enhancing your holiday cheer.
3. Set Boundaries and Learn to Say No
One of the biggest challenges during the holiday season is the pressure to attend numerous social gatherings, parties, and events. While it’s wonderful to celebrate with friends and family, it’s crucial to set boundaries and avoid overextending yourself. Learn to say no to invitations or activities that don’t align with your priorities or will cause you any excessive stress. Choose self compassion and prioritize your well-being. Focus on quality over quantity when it comes to social engagements.
Also, communicate your boundaries and limitations with your loved ones clearly and compassionately. By setting realistic expectations for others, you can avoid feeling forced and choose what truly matters to you. Remember that self care and quality time with loved ones are just as important as attending every holiday event.
4. Simplify and Delegate Tasks
Holiday preparations often involve a multitude of tasks, from gift wrapping to cooking elaborate meals. Instead of multitasking or shouldering all the responsibilities yourself, consider simplifying and delegating your tasks. Involve your family or friends in holiday preparations, dividing tasks among them. Delegate gift shopping or cooking responsibilities, or you can even consider opting for a potluck-style gathering where everyone contributes a dish.
Simplifying your tasks can also mean cutting back on decorations or gift-giving. Instead of going all out to splurge on materialistic expectations, you can focus on the more meaningful aspects of the holiday season. Embrace minimalism by streamlining your holiday preparations. Not only this will reduce your holiday stress, but it will also free up time for more enjoyable family activities.
These are the four simple yet effective ways in which you can plan and prepare to beat the holiday stress this festive season.
However, if you are reading this during the holiday season and there is no time life to prepare for the holiday stress, then here are a few things you can do right now to help yourself.
How to handle holiday stress?
1. Communicate Openly
The holiday season demands thrice of your involvement as compared to the regular times. You are up to the neck with so many duties and obligations. It is inevitable to feel stressed but it is also important to be clear and communicate openly with your people.
You cannot expect your family and friends to understand you without sharing how you are feeling. It is needed that you express your feelings, needs, and concerns calmly and respectfully. If certain topics or situations makes you uncomfortable, kindly but firmly ask your people to either avoid or handle them differently.
As communication is a two-way street, make sure that as much you express your thoughts you also attend to others’. You must listen actively to others and try to find compromises or solutions that can seamlessly work for everyone.
2. Seek Support
Just because it’s holidays and you feel obligated to certain people or events, that doesn’t mean you have to go through the holiday stress alone. If your anxiousness is taking a toll on you, make sure you reach out to friends, family, or support groups.
Talking about your concerns, expressing how you feel, and sharing them with your partner or someone can provide relief and perspective. It may help you to view the situation from a different lens and become more mindful of what’s happening around and inside you. Find someone you can confide in and be that person for someone else too.
Spend more time with people you love, who bring you joy and support. This can help you feel more connected and less stressed. If none of this makes a difference, then don’t hesitate to seek professional help as needed.
3. Practice Gratitude
Holidays are supposed to bring you closer to the positivity, happiness, and cheer of the season. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude helps you do the same. Yes, holidays can be a bit too much at times but it is also the time to be grateful for all the goodness this year brought to you.
Express appreciation for the little things you have, for your simple joys and moments of connection with your loved ones. Focus on what you’re grateful for and take time to acknowledge the good things in your life. This may help you feel more positive, more connected to yourself and to the people you admire.
Remember the true meaning of the holidays and focus on the positive aspects of your relationships. Whether it’s your family or friends, practice gratitude together. Appreciate the moments of joy you have experienced in the past and everything you have today.
4. Practice stress management techniques
As you take care of everyone around you, be mindful to take care of yourself too. After all, you cannot pour from an empty cup. So make sure you are fulfilled yourself first. Make it a priority to take time off work or other commitments to fully enjoy your holidays. Don’t underestimate the importance of rest and rejuvenation during the holidays for your overall well-being.
Find healthy ways to manage your holiday stress. Engage in hobbies you enjoy. Take breaks when needed and permit yourself to step away from tense situations to regain composure. Take breaks throughout the day to recharge and relax. This can help you avoid burnout and stay energized.
Remember that it’s important to take care of yourself, especially during the holiday season. You can reduce your holiday stress and increase the enjoyment of the season by prioritizing yourself first.
These are a few ways in which you can prepare for the holiday stress and also handle it in the moment. Now let us look at some ways in which you can enjoy your holidays more and keep the holiday stress completely away from you.
How can I enjoy the holidays more?
1. Explore new destinations
The holiday season is barely complete without going on a holiday. While it’s a personal choice, changing your environment during the holidays is a great way to boost your mood and keep yourself stress-free.
So if you’re planning to take off this holiday season, look for destinations that interest you and plan activities that align with your preferences. Try to explore new places instead of going to the same place. Broaden your horizons and embark on new journeys with your loved ones. Traveling to different locations can provide you with unique experiences, cultural insights, and a sense of adventure.
2. Embrace different activities
Instead of sticking to your usual routine, this holiday season try new fun activities with your family and friends.. Engage in activities that you wouldn’t normally do, such as hiking, snorkeling, cooking classes, or cultural workshops.
Stepping out of your comfort zone will give you new and memorable experiences. Plus, it will also allow you to learn new things about yourself. Your comfort zone can restrict you to your daily routine, but going beyond it can make you realize so much more about your mindset, capabilities, and purpose in life. It can help you to unlearn your inhibitions and let yourself free of expectations and deeply accept who you are for real.
3. Disconnect from technology
Technology has taken over your lives already. Slowly and gradually, it has paved its way in almost every aspect of your life. Whether personally or professionally, you are already living at the mercy of gadgets.
Hence, it is important to unplug and disconnect yourself from technology or limit its use during your holidays. If at all, go for a digital detox. Switch off your notifications. Sign out of your devices. This will reduce half of your holiday stress because you won’t be comparing your holidays to that what you see on social media. This will also help you to be fully present and enjoy the moment without constant distractions.
4. Watch Christmas Movies
While we are talking about different ways to enjoy the holidays, how can I not talk about my favorite holiday thing to do? Yes, we are talking about watching Christmas movies.
I went to a convent school and Christmas has always been a huge part of my childhood. I don’t think there will ever come a time when I’d talk about holidays and not mention my school. But now that I am all grown up, I keep those memories alive by watching Christmas movies. They bring out the little girl in me who used to be so excited about her Christmas celebrations at school. Some of my favorites Christmas movie series are The Princess Switch, A Christmas Prince, The Christmas Chronicles, and Home Alone. If you haven’t watched them yet, try them this season they will tickle the child in you.
5. Indulge in local cuisine
One of the joys of holidays is trying different types of food. You know what’s surprising, while the tourists get to see the place’s highlights, the locals barely have any time to visit them. And holidays are the perfect time to do this if you plan to stay at home.
I don’t know about you, but the markets at my place are lit up at this time. It is the best time of the year to step out with your family and friends. Indulge in local cuisine, visit local markets, try traditional dishes, and explore local sightseeing. You work hard all year long and you deserve to take this off and get involved in this delightful and immersive experience with the people you love and care about.
6. Capture memories
Whether you’re traveling for the holidays or you have chosen to enjoy them at home, you cannot miss taking pictures of your memories. The truth about photos is they are supposed to take you back to the moment and revisit those feelings.
So take photos or keep a travel journal to capture your holiday memories. Your pictures don’t have to be perfect. Click candids, and capture yourself and your people while they are doing things. Seize the moment. Or, you can even record these memories in videos. If at all, they will make you smile in the future. Looking back at these moments will bring you joy and serve as a reminder of the memorable and enjoyable times you had.
6. Be open-minded and flexible
Not everything in life will go as you plan. Hence, it is important to be open and accepting of last-minute changes. Sometimes, unexpected situations in plans can lead to memorable experiences. For example, once I was on holiday with my family and we waited the entire day for the snow. We had our tickets booked for return. It never happened while we were in Shimla. But the entire trip was one of my most cherished memories with my family.
Life doesn’t always work your way but it helps to stay flexible. When you embrace the spontaneity and serendipity of the holidays, you feel the magic of the season happening around you even in the simplest forms of life.
These are all the ways how you can help yourself with the holiday stress this season. Holidays are a time to relax and enjoy. They should not add to your anxiety let alone make you go through it.
So, I hope this blog would have helped you in some or the other way. I wish you enjoy and flow in the magic of the season and spread the holiday cheer as it should be while upkeeping your wellness and well-being.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones.
And if you ever feel like reaching out to me, you can just DM me on my Instagram.
Until next time,
I’ll see you soon!