Holiday Stress Management
Tips for Surviving the Season

Holiday stress is common and most inevitable.

Whether you are planning the perfect dinner party or getting ready to visit friends and family, stress finds it's way into our lives almost instantly around the holidays.

Many times, the stress that comes during these times can be overwhelming. More importantly, this stress can steal your joy and keep you miserable when in fact, you should be embracing what is most important to you.

So What Causes Your Holiday Stress?

Below you will find some common causes for holiday stress. Each one offers unique challenges, however, there are some basic things you can do that will help you make the best of this season.

Financial Stress

Most times the pressure of not being able to do what we would like to do financially causes us stress and disappointment. Some may even become depressed as a result of this stressor.

1. Limit Your Spending - Realize that holidays are not about money. Real love is unconditional and is a matter of the heart. Of course, we want to do nice things for those we love, however, it's important to remember that money can't buy love. Spending too much will only cause more financial stress, so be realistic as your budget allows.

2. Be Creative - I am sure that you have heard..."some of the best things in life are free". Planning special times with those you love is a priceless act of love. It sends a louder non-verbal message of "you are valuable to me" than an expensive material item. What kind of messages are you sending those you love during the holidays?

3. Remember You Can't Please Everyone - Many of us have people in our lives with high expectations. You must remember that it is not your job to make others happy especially at the cost of overextending yourself to unhealthy limits. If someone else is unhappy, that is their own problem, not yours!

Holiday Perfectionism

Maybe you are a perfectionist that obsesses around the holidays. You have to have everything "just right" or you are not happy. Although everything from decorating to dinner parties produce excitement for you, when things don't go as planned, you have a tendency to become stressed out and miserable.

1. Give yourself permission to be less than perfect. By doing this you will remove some of the stress and pressure you normally place on yourself.

2. Have Realistic Expectations - Ask yourself..."Is what I expect realistic?" Chances are good that your not being realistic. Expect only your best effort and then remind yourself that your best is good enough. Many times the expectations we have are based on what we dream or envision and what we wish to happen. Most of the time, the expectations we have are unrealistic and only leave you disappointed in the end. By setting realistic expectations, you are planning for success no matter what.

3. Encourage Yourself - When things don't go as planned, affirm yourself with truths surrounding your situation. Much of how you feel is based on your internal self-talk. It's a lot easier to accept what you can't control than to be upset by those very same things.

For more information, visit our section on Overcoming Perfectionism.

People Pleasing

There are those that take the entire burden of the holidays upon themselves. They are usually the ones that host the party, but don't ask for help. They do all the work, smiling on the outside but overworked and resentful on the inside. They could also be those who feel it's necessary to bounce from house to house in order to keep everyone happy. This is often seen in families with children.

1. Ask For Help - Don't allow your pride to get in the way of this one. Believe it or not, no one places these pressures upon you, but you. Most times, people are willing to help out if you ask them. It can be a big help when everyone can chip in together.

2. Stay True To Yourself - Of course, there are people that have high expectations but don't allow their expectations to dictate what you will and won't do. Only do what you can and don't feel guilt over the rest. It is not up to you to keep everyone happy. It is not uncommon or unfair to set limits for yourself or your family. Many times, families and friends have parties on the same day, is it really fair to you or your children to spread yourself so thin that there is nothing left for anyone? It is perfectly acceptable to make arrangements that fit you and your family. Finding this balance takes a bit of compromising and prioritizing , just remember what makes you happiest.

Relationship Stress

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The holidays can be difficult when family and friends unite and one of your relationships is struggling or unhealthy. It could be that you are not getting along with someone in your family or even a friend. During the holidays, we can't always control the comings and goings of other people. Sometimes we are forced into gatherings with people we prefer not to be with.

1. Always Choose to Under-react - It's easy to react negatively to someone we are not getting along with. Controlling your emotions may be difficult but not impossible. By making the choice to under-react to the situation, you are giving yourself permission to accept things for the way they are without adding more fuel to the flame. Even if you are provoked to anger by the other person, by choosing to let it go, you are choosing a more peaceful path.

2. Choose to Forgive - This can be the hardest decision to make, especially when someone has wronged you or is just plain difficult to deal with. However, you must remember that forgiveness does not mean that you are letting them off the hook for being accountable for their behavior, it just means you are accepting the way they it or not. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Why? Because when you choose to forgive, you are releasing yourself from all those negative emotions you have stored up inside. Besides, forgiveness doesn't mean you are opening up the door again the same way, but you are now putting boundaries on your relationship. You owe it to yourself and others to be more tolerant during the holidays. Nothing can destroy a special day like a negative keep yourself and your own attitude in check.

For more information on learning to deal with unresolved conflict, visit Family Stress.


The holidays are a time when a lot of people feel lonely and sad. At a time when most families and friends are gathering, there are those that don't have many people in their lives. Some have lost people they love and facing the holidays without them are tormenting. It is important to remember that not everyone looks forward to the holidays and that for many, this is a time for unwanted feelings and emotions. Believe it or not, for some, depression is at the highest point during these times, unfortunately, many even consider suicide as a way out of their pain.

Give to those in need - If you consider holidays to be sad, lonely and depressing, you can help yourself by helping others that are suffering and in need. There is a world full of people who could use your help. You can volunteer to help in a soup kitchen, you can reach out by giving a gift to a needy family. It is always through giving that we receive. If you need hope, give hope to someone else. If you need friendship, be a friend to someone else. It is a gift in itself, to be a gift to someone else. You will be surprised at how it feels to give to those in need.

If at any time, you find yourself in a crisis during the holidays, please ask someone for help. To learn more, visit Depression Help.

Don't Forget!

As busy as the holiday season can be, it's important that you balance yourself with everyday stress management skills.

  • Exercise! It burns up excess stress hormones and will help keep you balanced.
  • Keep your thought life positive and realistic.
  • Eat right. Holidays are a time for eating a lot of junk. Be sure eat good things too.
  • Do something each day that helps you relax!

For more ideas on taking care of yourself and the stress in your life, please visit Stress Management Tips & Techniques

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