Managing Stress Around the Holidays

woman looking stressed out while holding holiday items

The holiday season is a time of joy and celebration with family and friends, however it can also be a significant source of stress. The increased family responsibilities and jampacked schedules that accompany the holidays can be taxing, which is why it is essential to be mindful of your own needs. By learning ways to destress, practicing holiday self-care, and implementing holiday wellness strategies, you will best be able to support yourself as well as your family when your days get chaotic. Consider these helpful stress-free holiday tips to help you and your family get the most out of your holiday season.

Set Appropriate Expectations for Gift Giving with your Children

The pressures associated with gift-giving can feel overwhelming, but they don’t have to overshadow your holiday celebrations. Setting clear, realistic expectations surrounding gift-giving with your children, extended family, and friends is essential to managing holiday stress. Create a family budget for holiday spending that includes gifts and activities. Think of this time as an opportunity to teach your children about spending money responsibly and the value of a dollar. Remember, gifts don’t have to be expensive to be meaningful and heartfelt.

Be Selective When Planning Holiday Activities

It is natural to want to make a lot of plans to spend time with family and friends during the holiday season, but the key to avoiding holiday burnout is to not overextend yourself. Think about which activities, gatherings, and events are the most important to you and your family and make those a priority. Trying to do everything only leads to exhaustion, and you likely won’t even enjoy yourself. As you fill your schedule with holiday plans, be mindful to consider the time you’ll need to keep up with your basic needs, which include self-care for your body and mind.

Set Boundaries with Family and Friends

Setting boundaries with your loved ones is key to managing stress during the holidays. Speak with your family about each family member’s unique boundaries in regard to physical touch, certain topics of conversation, and social battery. Communicating your needs and listening to the needs of your family encourages children to practice setting and verbalizing boundaries and helps ensure your holiday goes smoothly.

Prioritize Your Health and Needs

Relaxing during the holiday season may sound impossible, but the truth is that it is essential. No matter how busy you may be, prioritize your basic needs and implement holiday relaxation techniques so that you can continue to support yourself and your family. Establish non-negotiables, like getting eight hours of sleep each night, eating healthy, nourishing meals, and maintaining cleanliness all around. Additionally, colds and the flu tend to make their rounds during the holiday season, and if you are feeling sick or exhausted it is important to listen to your body and rest when necessary. Don’t pressure yourself into feeling like you need to push yourself beyond your limits or take on more than you are capable of doing.

Create a Game Plan for Managing Stressful Moments

Even with the best intentions and most careful planning, it’s impossible to avoid stressful situations altogether. The best way to navigate stressful situations is to have a game plan in place that you can fall back on when a chaotic event arises. Envisioning a perfect holiday season only serves to increase your stress level when something inevitably goes awry. Instead, have a plan in place for when you feel stressed out. For example, if you are worried a family member will ask you about your plans to have another child, practice with your friend how you’ll respond to reduce stress if and when it happens.

Unplug from Screens and Be Present

Technology is a powerful tool that fosters productivity and connects people to family and friends, but throughout the holiday season screens can be an unwelcome distraction and possibly even overwhelming. This goes for children as much as adults, who often seek entertainment by way of tablets, computers, and smartphones. Unplugging from screens, or using screens in moderation, during the holidays allows you to better engage with your loved ones and have meaningful experiences. Leading by example and teaching children to remain present is the biggest gift of all.

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