Compassionate Psychological Care

How to Handle Holiday Stress

The holiday season bring with it a lot of joy, fun, and a whole ton of stress. As fun as parties and family get-togethers can be, if you're hosting there is a whole lot of work involved in making the night go great. Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, holidays performances or showcases, holiday parties, holiday family celebrations, and New Year's celebrations keep this 6 week period jammed packed. The planning, cleaning, preparing, cooking, hosting, and clean-up can be overwhelming, especially if you are hosting multiple events. So, how do you handle the stress of the holidays and still enjoy the parties through it all?

First - Share the load: You don't have to be the only person responsible for every celebration. Offer to host one event and let other people step-up to host others. Also, ask other party goers to bring food items to the gathering - pot lucks are a great way to share the prep, cooking, and clean up (and can be a whole lot of fun to taste what everyone else makes).

Second - Don't over commit: Part of what can make the holidays stressful is that we commit to too many events to avoid missing out or unintentionally insulting someone by declining their invitation. There are only so many weekends in this 6 week period, and thus only so many places you can be. I know I've experienced over committing and instead of enjoying my time at parties I have found myself watching the clock, making sure I'm at one party long enough but leaving early enough that I can make my next commitment. For me, it's stressful and cuts down on my level of enjoyment.

Third - Don't break the bank: During the holidays we can all become overcome with our desire to host great parties, make great food, buy great wine, have great winter experiences, and buy great presents. However, we still have to watch what we spend during this holiday season. Sometimes the trick is restraint - I sometimes think about Coco Chanel's quote, "Once you've dressed, and before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off." Sometimes one thoughtful gift to others can be enjoyed by a family member or friend, or one thoughtful well made dish can add so much to a potluck. Sometimes when we keep adding, we take away our enjoyment because we increase stress throughout the holidays.

Fourth - Take care of yourself: With everything going on and being pulled in so many directions we often put ourselves on the back burner and leave out our stress relief. If you alleviate stress by going to the gym - keep going. If it's listening/playing music find ways to incorporate it into your daily routine. Take time to read, take a hot bath, meditate, do yoga, snuggle with you significant other/kid/pet, and just relax. It may feel like you don't have time to do this, but setting aside 15-30 minutes for yourself is doable and can make all the difference.

Fifth and Final - Enjoy yourself! - Instead of focusing on how stressful the prepping, planning, execution and clean up is; focus on the time you spend with the people whom you love and enjoy. Include your partner, kids, and friends in all of the stages and find ways to make it fun. Being fully present in the celebrations themselves instead of focusing on all the things you have to get done will increase your enjoyment in the season immensely. This may sound cliche but live, laugh, and love more throughout this season and the stress may not go away, but will become more manageable.

Happy Holidays!