Holiday Stress, Exhaustion, and Expectations: 10 Smart Ways to Overcome

Holiday stress and exhaustion seem to be the unwanted gifts of the season. Don't lose your joy. Follow these 10 tips to inject more happy into your holiday.

10 Smart Ways to Overcome Holiday Stress, Expectations, and Exhaustion  

December 2016 

When you think of the holiday season, do you feel overwhelmed with holiday stress ? Does this time of year cause exhaustion from all of the expectations heaped upon you, or that you heap upon yourself?  

Thankfully, there are ways to overcome the anxiety so that you can actually enjoy the holidays instead of dread them.

Tip #1:  Make a Logistical Plan

Before the holidays begin, sit down and make a plan for how to tackle this time of year. Consider these thoughts:

  • Will you be hosting family or traveling?
  • If you have a partner, will you visit their family, yours, or both?
  • What gifts should you purchase?
  • If hosting, what food will you prepare?

Tip #2:  Be Ready Financially

Financial planning is another part of the planning process for the holidays. Gifts, travel, and meals all cost money. Finding that you are short on funds or going into credit card debt only adds to holiday stress. However, you can plan ahead financially for the holidays by using online tools to create a budget and save.

Tip #3:  Make an Emotional Plan

Anticipating a visit with certain stress-inducing relatives? Just as you anticipate logistical problems, plan ahead when it comes to family/relationship stress. Imagine yourself interacting with this person. Think about how you might react to them positively versus negatively. This can help you prepare should those situations arise.

Tip #4:  Avoid Eating or Drinking Too Much

One simple way to prevent making things worse is to resist overeating or drinking too much alcohol. Taking in all of those calories only makes you sluggish, and too much alcohol can cloud your judgement. This might lead to poor decisions you’ll regret later.  

Tip #5:  Stay Positive with Family

Another way to handle troublesome family members is to be conscious of how you interact with them. Try to stay positive and curious. For instance:

  • Ask about their accomplishments this year (school, work, trips, etc.).
  • If they have children, ask how are they doing.
  • Show interest in their hopes and priorities for the
  • coming year?

When your relatives ask you questions you can try to steer the conversation towards the positive things that are happening in your life.

Tip #6:  Remember to Breathe!

If you begin to feel anxious take a few deep, steady breaths to calm yourself. You can also practice more formal mindfulness techniques that involve focusing on your breathing in order to cope with anxious feelings.

Tip #7:  Stay Active

Don’t just sit around the house when you visit the family. Get up and move around! Go for a walk around the block or through a park to burn off a few calories and get the blood moving. Even better, ask your relatives to come with you. If you plan to visit for an extended period of time, stick to your regular exercise routine.

Tip #8:  Make Time for Yourself

After spending so much time with other people you can “recharge” by:

  • Waking up before everyone else.
  • Volunteering to go on an errand.
  • Stepping outside the gathering room for a few minutes.

Step #9:  Practice Self-Care

Is the holiday stress too much? Do you have a friend that you can call or a family member you can talk to who understands what’s going on and will be supportive? Sometimes we just need to talk to someone.

Step 10:  Professional Counseling

If the holiday stress is thoroughly overwhelming or depressing, seek out professional help. A therapist will be able to listen to you without judgment. They can recommend strategies to help you to cope and gain perspective.

Holiday stress just wears us down during a time which should be filled with joy. Don’t let exhaustion happen to you. Keeping these steps in mind can help you enjoy this time of year instead of stressing over it.