Holiday Stress: How to Deal with the
most Stressful time of year

Facing Holiday Stress is almost inevitable during certain times of the year. Although these are supposed to be joyous times, there are many other factors that can turn the holidays into a stressful nightmare if you aren't prepared.

One of the main reasons we face holiday stress has to do with our families. Many of us gather with our friends and families to celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, Birthdays, etc. These stressful events may include:

holiday stress
  • Planning large meals
  • Shopping for gifts
  • Inviting guests into your home
  • Traveling

The key to maintaining your sanity during these times is to Be Prepared. Plan for your holiday in advance.

Use these holiday stress tips to help minimize the chance that you will face major stress during the holidays:

    Some things to consider at least a month before the event:

  • Know whether you are traveling somewhere, or whether you are hosting the event at your home.
  • Know what you will be planning to cook, have recipes ready, and shopping lists made.
  • Always purchase the items on your shopping list as early as possible, do not go to the grocery store at the last minute unless it's absolutely necessary. Many times, they will be out of the item you need, not to mention the stores will be filled to the brim with last minute shoppers.
  • If you are traveling, have your arrangements completed no later than one month in advance.
  • Complete your gift shopping as early as possible, you may even start this many months prior to the holiday. Some people begin shopping for Christmas as early as the prior January. You can collect gifts throughout the year, saving the last minute stress of shopping with holiday crowds. If it's already too late to start early this year, add this to your list of New Years Resolutions for next year.

The larger the guest list (whether it be at your home or someone else's) the more shopping and cooking you may need to do, so keep that in mind.

holiday stress

Begin your preparations with a check list. Write down everything you will need to be prepared for. Doing your list in advance, will allow you time to make changes or additions along the way.

Once you have your checklist, put it up on your refrigerator, or hang it on a bulletin board. Keep it in sight and keep it handy.

Give yourself a deadline for each of your tasks. Allow yourself plenty of time to complete each of the things on your list to keep them from causing pre-holiday stress.

Once you've thought and prepared for the things you must do, it's time to prepare for how you will handle the event itself. Because even when you've prepared, and have experienced no stress up until the moment you walk into your mother-in-law's door... a new battle of holiday stress begins.

Here are some ways you can prepare for dealing with your stress once it begins:

  • If you're traveling, prepare an exit strategy. Your exit strategy may be a 10 minute walk in the neighborhood park, or volunteering to make a last minute run to the grocery store (because not everyone will be as prepared as you). And you can use that time to compose yourself, breathe deeply, and remind yourself that it will all be over soon.
  • If you're staying in a hotel, plan to stay somewhere that has an indoor hot tub or exercise room. After the day's events are over, have someplace to go and unwind.

  • holiday stress
  • If you're hosting, when the kitchen gets too small, and everyone has been overtaken by holiday stress, take a break together. Announce to everyone that it's time to cool off... "we're all going for a walk". Or have some other activity prepared for that moment. Allow everyone to recharge their batteries. You could also start a snowman building contest, or even a snowball fight if you have snow in your area... just be careful who you aim for.
  • If people are staying overnight in your home, plan evening activities, and be sure to stock up on necessities, wash your towels and blankets in advance so that you're not trying to dig a dusty old blanket out of the basement at the last minute for Grandpa.

If you have people in your family who tend to be unhappy no matter what happens or what gifts they get... plan a volunteer activity. Get everyone together and volunteer at your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter to help serve meals to needy people in your community. You can make time to fit this in before or after your own meal. This activity can make the not-so-grateful appreciate what they have, as well as give the whole family a sense of pride and togetherness.

Remember, as prepared as you may be, you won't be able to control everything. And you certainly won't be able to control the amount of holiday stress that others are experiencing. But you can control how prepared you are and how you handle your stress.

P.S. Don't forget to enjoy yourself... after all, isn't that what they holiday's are for?

Holiday Stress Tip: Use hypnosis to make family gatherings more enjoyable. Click here to downlaod the "Family Gatherings" hypnosis audio.

Be sure to plan for some down time with relaxation techniques before, during, and after the holidays to help you maintain your sanity and enjoy the holidays instead of stressing over them.

And when it's all over, don't forget to use your Stress Management Journal to write about what worked, what didn't work, and what you're going to remember for next year.

Are you stressed about going back to work after your holiday vacation? Check out these tips for managing your stress at work.

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The information presented on this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Always seek the advice of your individual Health Care Professional.