Keeping Holiday Stress at Bay

December 2, 2020

​Some people look forward to the holidays all year, while others see the holiday season approaching and are overcome by a sense of dread. And this year, there can be added stress because of the pandemic. Try these tips for managing the stress that seems to be built into the holiday season.

Set priorities

People sometimes get wrapped up in trying to create perfection at this time of the year. Set reasonable goals for what you will do to celebrate. Decide in advance what is most important to you and your family and focus your celebrations around those things. Try to avoid replicating everything your family did when you were young. Hang on to meaningful traditions but avoid doing something solely because it is what your family did.

Don’t over-schedule

You and your family need downtime to enjoy this special time of the year. Be careful to choose activities based on what you want to do rather than what you think you must do.

Make a plan

Once you have decided what your priorities are for holiday celebrations, plan how you will organize yourself to get the important work done. Make a calendar and include all important items on it. You may even want to schedule time for any shopping, decorating, baking, writing cards or other traditions that you have decided will be part of your holiday. Carefully plan your menus and do your shopping in an organized fashion, with a list. Take advantage of online shopping when possible – it will save you time and also help maintain safety while avoiding crowds. You will be much less likely to forget important ingredients and eliminate the last-minute running that can leave you exhausted and frazzled.

Keep expectations realistic

It is not your responsibility to be sure that everybody has a perfect holiday, so don’t put that demand on yourself. Holiday joy is something that comes from within a person—you cannot create something that is not there.

Make a budget and keep it

If gift buying is part of your holiday celebration, decide in advance what you can afford to spend this year. Create a list of all the people you will shop for and allocate a portion of your total holiday budget to each person. That is the easy part—the hard part is sticking to the budget you create! Try to think of less expensive gift options—a baking mix, a nicely framed photograph of a shared memory, or the gift of your time. Overspending during the holidays is a major source of stress, so be careful. Remember that all the gifts in the world cannot buy happiness.

Care for yourself and your family

During the holidays, when stress can really take its toll, people tend to neglect doing those things that reduce stress. You may overindulge in food and drink, and leave such things as rest, relaxation and exercise out of your daily life. Make it a goal to change that this holiday season. Be realistic about the types and amounts of foods you choose. Avoid sugary and fat laden snacks that may give you a quick boost but will be followed by a drop in energy. Get outside for a brisk walk and take the kids. Think about what is causing your stress and make a plan to change the pressures you may be putting on yourself. Rest, relax, and reflect on the meaning of the season—peace!

Stay safe

Ensuring you and your family are safe during the holidays will also help lessen stress. Remember to use established safety protocols for COVID-19 such as wearing a mask, washing your hands, social distancing and avoiding crowds.