The holidays happen once a year.
Some may shout, “Hallelujah!”
Others may wish every day could be a holiday.
If you’re one of those who shout Hallelujah, then it’s likely that you suffer from stress, overwhelm, and/ or anxiety during what has been called, “the most wonderful time of the year”
If you’re stressed during the holidays, you may call them horrific, horrible, hellish…. anything but wonderful. You may hate having to deal with the additional agony of:
- family drama
- crowded supermarkets
- awkward visits and conversations with friends and family
- hectic travel plans
- unrealistic expectations placed on yourself by others and by yourself
- constant demands on your time and your health,
- and the list goes on and on.
If this sounds familiar and the thought of the holidays makes you cringe, because you find them so stressful, overwhelming, and anxiety-inducing, then I’ve got great news for you. There are several stress-free ways to enjoy the holidays. Here are 17 Super Stress-Free Ways To Enjoy The Holidays.
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1. Be More Mindful
Mindfulness means being more aware of your surroundings and intentionally attempting to live in and enjoy the moment you’re currently experiencing. This means not stressing about external things, like your:
- long list of chores/errands,
- or anything else.
Being mindful, especially during the holidays, is one of the keys to being stress-free. Focusing on one thing at a time will enable you to be more mindful. This approach will enable you to achieve much more in less time, rather than being stressed, overwhelmed, and/ or anxious over a million and one things to do, places to go, or people to see.
These emotions are a recipe for disaster. Who wants to deal with a disaster? Reduce the risk of having to deal with disasters during the holidays by being more mindful throughout the holiday season. Concentrate on soaking up every aspect of the present that you’re living in right now, rather than agonizing over an abundance of stress-inducing activities on your to-do list.
Mindfulness leads to enhanced happiness, health, and wellness. Learn how to be Happy, Healthy, and Positive in only one month.
Top Tip: Be more mindful. Observe your surroundings. Note little, but significant details. Cherish moments that you normally would take for granted. Being more mindful means you’ll enjoy the holidays a lot more.
2. Avoid Comparisons
My grandmother used to love watching an old British sitcom, “Keeping Up Appearances”. The main character, Hyacinth Bucket, is an overbearing, social-climbing snob, originally from a lower-class background, whose principal mission in life is to impress others with her refinement and pretended affluence. Her aspirations to impress rich and successful people drive her husband and relatives mad. People who know her prefer not to be around her because of her unrealistic standards.
Don’t be a Hyacinth!
Trying to compare your holiday standards to anyone else is likely to bring misery to you and your loved ones. There will always be what you think is better and worst holiday activities, presents, decorations, etc. than yours. You can easily drive yourself and your family crazy constantly comparing yourself to others, especially during the holidays.
This is because there’s a lot more pressure and expectations during the holidays to get things perfect or to overachieve. It helps to remember that holidays are very personal, and experiences and expectations are unique to individual families.
Top Tip: Avoid comparing yourself to others. Your holiday traditions and activities need to fit your family; not your neighbors.
3. Don’t Get Into Debt
Are you sinking yourself into the quicksand of holiday debt?
Many suffer this financial fate in the new year. As meaningful and magical as the holidays are, it’s never worth getting into debt for several years, over a few days/weeks of fun, frivolity and festivities.
It’s never a good look to get into debt because you’re trying to keep up with the Joneses (or the Hyacinths).
The best way to avoid financial issues in the new year is to stick to a budget. Budgeting is beneficial because it keeps you in control of your finances. This helps reduce stress caused by financial worries.
This kind of control is priceless, especially during the time of the year when most people go crazy buying things they may not need or can’t afford. Having a budget means that you’re less likely to impulse buy, or overspend on unaffordable items.
Making a budget and sticking to it may mean you:
- need to start your holiday shopping several months before the holiday season begins
- buy a little or just one thing at a time
- need to set aside a small amount of money over a long period
- only purchase what you can afford
If none of the above appeals to you, then try giving gifts from the heart. Perhaps you could offer your help/skills/time to your loved ones instead of expensive/unaffordable things. I’m sure your grandma would cherish you spending quality time with her have a long chat, more than an overpriced designer dress. Your best friend would appreciate you babysitting so she could get a break, more than you buying her a pair of earrings that she doesn’t need and may never wear. Your brother could do with some help sorting out his garage, instead of giving him socks/a tie that will get lost in a week.
Remember to live within your means. No one wants to feel like the village idiot because on Boxing Day because they’re a broke joke and can’t afford anything until payday at the end of January.
Top Tip: Budgeting is an asset because it helps you plan how you spend and/ or save your money throughout the holidays and beyond.
4. Visualize What You Want
Have a mental picture of what you want your holidays to look like. This enables you to work towards achieving what you want. It also allows you to set realistic goals and expectations for yourself and others.
Envision what you are doing on a specific day of the holidays. Are you enjoying a succulent piece of roast chicken/ham/turkey? Perhaps you’re busy dancing and having a great time with the kids as you decorate the house. Maybe you see yourself watching a Christmas movie on Netflix with your friends and family? Could you be winning at that card/board game you love so much?
Whatever you visualize, intentionally work towards making it happen. Having a clear idea of what you want to achieve throughout your holidays will reduce potential stress, overwhelm, and anxiety.
Share your vision with those you love so that they can help make it a reality. This way, you all can have a joyous holiday. Don’t forget to reciprocate and help your loved ones make their holiday wishes real as well.
Take videos and photos so you can have priceless memories of your special, magical moments.
Top Tip: Determine what you want to happen during your holidays and take intentional steps to make your dreams a reality.
BONUS READ: 7 Successful Ways to Study This Holiday Season
5. Be Flexible
“Man plans. God laughs.”
This was a famous phrase my grandfather loved to quote.
When I was a child, I used to wonder what this meant. As a busy adult, I know all too well what it means, especially around the holidays. Despite how much we plan and prepare, sometimes life happens, and unforeseen circumstances change all our perfect, pristine plans.
If there’s one thing the recent pandemic has taught us all is that life can change in an instant. So, don’t be disappointed and miserable because someone couldn’t make it to your dinner, or you had to miss out on that holiday party.
Instead of grieving over changed/canceled plans, try to be flexible enough to adapt and adjust to the circumstances you have. Why not try making new plans, so that you’ll have new and exciting events to look forward to?
Maintain a positive attitude and you’ll enjoy a stress-free, joyful experience throughout the holidays.
Top Tip: Flexibly is an asset during one of the most stressful times of the year. Being positive and adjusting to suit circumstances is certain to help you enjoy a stress-free holiday season.
6. Planning Is A Blessing
Although it’s essential to be flexible, this doesn’t mean that you should do things last minute in a muddle. If unexpected circumstances arise, having an action plan helps to avoid panicking.
Knowing what you want to accomplish (aka planning) is a great way to enjoy a stress-free holiday season.
Alternatively, if you’re running around aimlessly like a headless chicken, then you’re more likely to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and/ or anxious during the holidays.
To help with your planning needs, grab this FREE Planner Package and enjoy a stress-free holiday season.
Top Tip: For stress-free holidays, have an action plan. This gives you peace of mind and helps you avoid an abundance of panic.
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7. Prioritize What’s Important
“You can’t please all the people all the time.”
I’m sure you’ve heard this old saying before. With this wisdom, it’s best to prioritize what’s important to you instead of stressing about pleasing everyone else.
For a stress-free holiday with reduced overwhelm and anxiety, your holiday plans should focus on your priorities and values. Stand up for what you want and believe in as opposed to going along with the crowd, to your detriment.
For instance, a group of friends and/ or family members may want you to drink until you get mindlessly drunk. If this is something you’re opposed to, then say, “NO!” Be firm with your decision. After all, aren’t you the one who will have to suffer through the debilitating hangover the next day? Therefore, it’s ok to avoid compromising what you want to do just to fit in or follow the crowd.
Top Tip: Throughout the holidays, prioritize what you want and maintain your standards.
8. Don’t Neglect Your Mental Health
The madness of the holidays may mess with your mental health.
Trying to cope with all things Christmas, particularly after Covid has left us all reeling, may present challenges that can send even the most organized or accomplished person over the edge.
To avoid feeling like you’re losing your mind during the holidays, don’t be afraid to embrace your feelings. Whether you miss a loved one or feel sad for whatever reason, don’t be ashamed of your emotions.
It may help if you reach out to others when you feel low. Have you considered phoning a friend/family member who you know will make you laugh out loud or just be an understanding/supportive ear?
Perhaps you’d prefer volunteering somewhere and helping someone less fortunate get through a difficult time? Helping others may be a real mood lifter for you.
Forgiving others may also make you feel better. There’s no point holding on to grudges that cause you pain and heartache, especially when everywhere you look, people and places are filled with cheerfulness throughout the holidays. So, take Elsa’s advice and just,
“Let it go, let it go.”
During this challenging time, please don’t put too much pressure on yourself or others. It’s better to have realistic expectations and avoid trying to be perfect.
Top Tip: If all else fails, to protect your mental health, seek professional help. No one wants to suffer in silence, especially during the holidays.
9. Set Limits and Personal Boundaries
“You’re more likely to have a snowstorm in the Sahara desert than you are to have a Christmas dinner without family drama/trauma.”
Someone said the above sentence to me and I tend to agree. Do you?
Most people I meet are convinced that family drama and trauma usually go hand in hand throughout the holidays. That’s why it’s so important to set limits and personal boundaries if you want to enjoy a stress-free holiday season.
Do this by deciding what and who you’re prepared to tolerate and what and who you won’t. Make these decisions before the holidays are in full swing and you invite guests to your home, or before you visit anyone for the holidays.
Be clear about what topics you’re willing to discuss and what you won’t talk about. So, if Aunt Doris launches into her annual outburst about how much she hates Uncle Albert because “He’s a drunken bum who stole the expensive silverware that their Momma left for her 30 years ago”, clarify that you won’t stay and be subjected to her rants this year.
Before you even start your holiday celebrations, know exactly what conflicts/arguments you will not subject yourself or your family to and have a plan to escape the madness if necessary.
Remember to focus on how you respond to other people and their craziness, but don’t stress about trying to control/change anyone. If people are acting like fools and you begin feeling awkward, unsafe, embarrassed, or trapped, then leave. There’s no need to feel guilty or apologetic for getting out of an uncomfortable situation.
For instance, if Aunt Doris and Uncle Albert are cursing each other out and begin throwing blows, you may feel unsafe. If so, then get outta there! You don’t need to apologize, just walk away.
Top Tip: Stick to your standards to ensure that your mental health remains intact and you don’t suffer stress, overwhelm, and/ or anxiety during the holidays. Firmly enforce your boundaries, whether it be with family or friends.
10. Ask For Help
Are you one of those people who prefers to do everything yourself?
Are you convinced that this is the only way you can be guaranteed that things will get done how and when you want them done?
I know that sometimes you have to admit that “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”
However, during the holidays, there’s usually a mountain of things to do. So, it can help reduce your stress, overwhelm, and anxiety to ask for help even if you know you can do it yourself.
Perhaps you could get your kids to help hang the decorations. Maybe your partner won’t mind peeling those potatoes. Could you ask your auntie to run some errands? Your sibling won’t mind sorting out the party entertainment and games this year, will they?
Top Tip: Throughout one of the busiest times of the year, getting help can be a blessing that avoids you stressing.
11. Have an attitude of gratitude
As long as we’re alive, we all have a lot to be thankful for. Especially since the pandemic caused so many to not make it to the holidays.
The holidays are a time to celebrate and be thankful for our blessings. Having an attitude of gratitude is guaranteed to reduce your stress levels and eliminate your anxiety and overwhelm.
Remember that it’s just as important to appreciate and be grateful for the small, simple things and the people in your life that don’t cost you anything, as it is to enjoy expensive luxuries.
- Be grateful for the ability to relax and enjoy a board/card game with friends and family.
- Appreciate that you’re healthy enough to go for a walk in the park and play with your little ones or your pet (s).
- Take a drive with your loved ones and be amazed at the beautiful flashing lights and creative Christmas displays.
- Curl up on the couch/sofa and enjoy a wonderful Christmas movie with your family.
- Take loads of photos and videos to immortalize moments like decorating the tree or baking cookies.
These are all blessings you can enjoy free of cost that would ensure you have a stress-free holiday season.
Top Tip: Being grateful for your blessings, big and small, will help you have a stress-free holiday season.
12. Set Realistic Expectations
Few things are more disappointing than that harsh dose of reality that slaps you in the face when you can’t live up to high, unrealistic expectations during the holidays.
That’s why this time of year is notorious for causing people to run around panicking in their feeble attempt to live up to unrealistic expectations.
To avoid getting stressed because you can’t attain those unrealistic expectations, slow down for a second and think about what you want throughout the holidays and how you will go about getting it.
If you find some things are beyond your budget or are not aligned with your values, then stop stressing about them and rethink things. Don’t cause yourself unnecessary and unwanted debt, distress, or discord because you have unrealistic expectations.
This may mean having a chat with some of your loved ones, especially kids, and explaining to them the reason why things may not go according to their expectations.
This may be hard to accept at first, but it’s a great opportunity to teach others about cherishing people, not things, and appreciating the things they already have that may not cost any money. It’s also a great way to learn about setting realistic expectations and living within your means.
Being reasonable, open, and honest with each other improves the likelihood of you and your loved ones not having unrealistic expectations. This leads to more people having realistic expectations and enjoying their holidays to a greater extent. It also reduces the risk of anyone suffering from disappointment, stress overwhelm, and/ or anxiety associated with not giving/not receiving unexpected expectations.
Top Tip: Having realistic expectations reduces the risk of stress, overwhelm, and anxiety during the holidays.
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13. Rest, Relax, and Recharge
The holidays are a time where everyone is in overdrive to get things done.
Whether it’s food or present shopping, traveling to be with loved ones, or cleaning and decorating your home, this time of year is usually filled with hectic to-do lists several miles long.
With so much to do in so little time, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself and remain healthy.
Taking a break to recharge may be the last thing on your mind during the holidays. But now more than ever is when rest, relaxation, and recharging are essential to maintain your sanity and reduce the risk of suffering from stress, overwhelm, or anxiety during the holiday season.
Although it may be difficult to take a break to recharge for several hours during the day, attempt to get some “ME” time in your day. How about sneaking in a power nap for 15 – 45 minutes? Or perhaps you could slip away from all the noise of life and get some quiet time enjoying a treat.
Be creative and be brave when you decide to escape. Take breaks from all the stressful circumstances that you endure daily.
Top Tip: Resting, relaxing, and recharging are essential for you to be your best. Taking brief breaks throughout the holidays will help you stay healthy and happy even after the holidays are over.
14. Sleep To Stay Healthy and Happy
Sleep is Sweet!
Throughout the holidays, sleep deprivation may become more of the norm, rather than the exception. Therefore, to stay healthy and happy throughout the holidays, sleep must be part of your routine.
Lack of sleep affects your immune system and encourages mental and physical illnesses.
Do you want to be sick, physically, or mentally, during the holidays?
No one wants that because it would be a nightmare to miss all the food, fun, family, friends, and festivities.
Therefore, it’s important to get as much sleep as you can, even if sometimes it’s just a power nap. Doing so enables you to successfully tackle whatever life throws at you.
Try to avoid staying up extra late and waking up extra early. Whatever it is you think is so important that you must stay up late or wake up early to attend to, will not get done if you’re too sick to do it.
Don’t be afraid to say “NO!” when you don’t want to do something or go somewhere because you know it will restrict/disrupt your sleep time. Especially during the holidays, it’s easy to feel pressured to do everything and go everywhere for fear of missing out.
Believe me, you’re not missing anything more precious than your sleep. So, decide to only do the things that are beneficial to you and be brave enough to avoid and ignore the rest.
Top Tip: Prioritize your sleep so you can stay healthy and happy mentally and physically, throughout the holidays and beyond.
15. Take A Social Media Holiday
“Social Media is a merciless mistress.”
It takes your time and energy without apology.
Although social media has many advantages, especially for entertainment, it’s important to not become obsessed or addicted to it.
The holidays will be less stressful, overwhelming, and anxiety-inducing if you remain in control and not fall victim to the allure of Instagram, the yearnings of YouTube, the tantalizing effects of Twitter, or the fascination of Facebook.
If you think you’ll benefit from taking a break from social media, read this FREE chapter in my book to learn about the disadvantages of social media and how you can enjoy a social media holiday. Let me know what’s the best email address to send your FREE chapter to.
Top Tip: Remember, “It takes discipline not to let social media steal your time.” Enjoy a break from social media and benefit from reduced stress, overwhelm, and anxiety throughout the holidays and beyond.
16. Don’t Be So Self Critical
“I am my own biggest critic.”
These were the words my friend Sasha said to me after I spend ages convincing her that her home looked amazing with her tasteful holiday decorations.
Sasha is exceptional, but she’s so self-critical that sometimes it’s draining being around her. She complains she has difficulty silencing her “inner critic.”
Can you relate to finding it difficult to silence your inner critic or ignore negative self-talk like Sasha?
You may find that sometimes it’s so much easier being kind to others than it is being kind to yourself.
You have no problem judging or demeaning yourself and believing that you are worthless, not good enough, inadequate, wrong, and/ or guilty. By contrast, you wouldn’t dream of being so judgemental or demeaning to your friends, classmates, or colleagues.
Why is that?
Sadly, self-criticism may flourish during the holidays. This increase in negative self-talk heightens stress, overwhelm, and anxiety.
So, to enjoy a stress-free holiday season, the next time you realize that you’re being self-critical, stop and ask yourself aloud, “Would I think or say these things to _______________ (insert a friend/classmate/colleague’s name)?”
If the answer is a resounding “NO!” then don’t convince yourself that it applies to you.
Be positive and believe in yourself. Convince yourself that you’ve got this. Things will be ok, and it’s fine to not be perfect ALL. THE. TIME.
Top Tip: Turn off the self-critical switch and watch how your holidays light up with joy and positive vibes.
17. Don’t Worry. Instead, Be Concerned.
There are presents to be bought.
Food to be cooked.
Trees to decorate.
Parties to plan.
Houses to clean and tidy…
and a plethora of other things that need to be done during the holidays.
No wonder we worry and get stressed out, overwhelmed, and suffer from anxiety during this time of year.
One way to avoid these burdensome emotions is to not worry so much.
I know that may be easier said than done, but it is possible.
Worrying about what we can’t control can cause increased stress, overwhelm, and anxiety. These contribute to a vicious cycle of sleepless nights and more worry.
A good way to overcome this vicious cycle is to worry less and believe that you can deal with whatever life throws at you.
Instead of worrying all the time, replace your worry with something more fact-based and concrete, like mild concern. Worrying is often increased by speculation and over-exaggeration about things that “may happen.” It may also be more inflated than the problem calls for.
By contrast, concern is based on facts, so your response to the problem is likely to be more rational when you are just concerned, and not making yourself sick with worry.
Top Tip: Remember that you can’t control everything all the time, so stop trying to. Replace worry with mild concern to increase your chances of avoiding stress, overwhelm, and anxiety throughout the holidays.
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The holidays are filled with so much commercialization, so many to-do lists, and such high expectations that it’s easy to suffer from stress, overwhelm, and anxiety at this time of year.
To reduce the risk of suffering, try taking things slow during the holidays. Savor special moments to avoid the holidays zooming by in a blur.
Don’t be so distracted by the hustle and bustle of this time of year that you forget to enjoy and appreciate your loved ones.
Try not to constantly compare your holidays with others.
Be flexible, but have an action plan.
Stick to your budget and don’t get into debt.
Have standards and set boundaries.
Get some sleep and don’t apologize for taking a rest to recharge.
It’s not a crime or a sin to ask for help.
Concentrate on what you can control and forget the rest.
Perfectionism is boring, so stop trying to be boring!
Above all, savor the simple, sweet, magical moments that you enjoy on your own and with your loved ones throughout the holidays.
They are priceless!
These tips are my 17 super stress-free ways to enjoy the holidays.
Do you have any tips you’d like to add? Leave me a comment below and let me know!
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