Stress Free Holiday Season


We look forward to the holidays and hope that they will be a time of happiness, friendliness, fellowship and harmony. Yet often our anticipation and excitement turns into feelings of depression and/or family disharmony.

This may occur because of the stressfulness of holiday events and the demands of the season: shopping, cooking, house guests, family reunions, parties, office parties, and the extra financial burden. More often than not it happens because we have unrealistic expectations for the holiday season.

Keep your holiday expectations rational

  • The most important contributors to a happy holiday season are the expectations we create in our own minds.
  • Remember, you can’t make holidays perfect – people get sick, recipes don’t always turn out as expected, family members don’t always get along.
  • You don’t have to have a perfect party, perfectly behaved children, or the most beautifully decorated home. Give yourself a break. Keep your expectations reasonable.

Take care of yourself during the holiday season

  • Eat a healthy diet (most of your calories from vegetable, fruits, grains, and other low fat ingredients)
    • If you eat better, you will feel better. You will have more energy. You will look better and consequently, your self-esteem is enhanced.
    • Trying to diet during the holiday season will make you feel like a failure and ruin the festive nature of celebrations and parties.
  • Exercise regularly – exercise can help you keep your world in perspective and control your weight.
  • Don’t expect that the holidays will automatically take away feelings of aloneness, sadness, frustration, anger, or fear.

You have no control of how others behave, but you can be responsible for how you behave

  • The key to avoiding holiday stress with families is for each of us to feel mastery over, and satisfaction with, our own behaviors, attitudes, and feelings.
  • If you know in your head and heart that you have acted like the best parent, child, brother, sister, friend that you know how to be, you can walk away from any difficulty feeling good about yourself.
  • Be careful about resentments related to holidays past. Declare an amnesty with whichever family member or friend you are feeling past resentments. Citing your resentments to others will not be helpful. Don’t let others do this to you either.

Take control of your time and limit commitments

  • You are in charge of the number of commitments you make. You don’t have to have a holiday party at your home. You can schedule a party in February instead.
  • You don’t have to attend every event just because you received an invitation, just as you don’t need to answer your cell phone just because it is ringing.
  • Be reasonable with your schedule, organize your time, and don’t overbook yourself into a state of exhaustion.
  • Making too many commitments that you fail to keep can lead to guilt and stress over your procrastination and failure.

Take the time to enjoy family and friends: establish traditions

  • Spend the time with the people you love; Share memories and laughter; take time for personal reflection
  • Don’t spend your time trying to change your siblings or redressing grievances from years past

Have an attitude of gratitude

  • Misery and gratitude cannot occupy the same space in our psychological House. We have the power to choose between these psychological states.

If you are alone for the holiday

  • Volunteer with a group that helps the underprivileged, hospitalized children, the homeless, or the aged and disabled.

Don’t expect the holidays to be just as they were when you were a child

  • They never are. You are not the same person you were as a child and no one else in the family is either.
  • If your memories of childhood are awful, remember that you now have the capacity and skills to make them better.