Inside: Why are the holidays stressful? Learn why they are and how you can stress less this holiday season!

How would you describe your typical holiday season? Is it full of joy or more stressful than you’d like?

If the holidays have you feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, use the tips in this post to find ways you can relax more and truly enjoy them this year.

Let’s examine some holiday stressors and tips on managing holiday stress, so there’s LESS Christmas time stress.

why the holidays are stressful

#1 Reason Holidays Are Stressful

Can anyone actually say they have the #1 reason holidays are stressful? And can the problems of Christmas time stress actually be solved? Let’s explore that.

If you were to list out every single reason for your “holiday stressors,” you’d find they’re mostly the same each year, right? Typically they can be boiled down to one word:  Expectations 

The expectations can be self-imposed or can come from others. The idea that you have to do certain things each year in a particular way can cause a great deal of stress.

Most often the number one reason holidays are stressful is that we want it to be a certain way and for a variety of reasons things may not go as planned. It’s also possible to become overwhelmed and exhausted simply because you’re trying to live up to your own expectations.

That’s not a recipe for enjoying a relaxing holiday season.

Why is Christmas Time Stressful: Holiday Stressors

The financial stressors of gifts, traveling, and food add up quickly. Schedules can also quickly fill up which creates stress as you go from one holiday obligation to another.

Not only can we be short on time or money, but there can be stress with relationships as well. There may be sibling squabbles, parents not getting along due to divorces, ongoing feuds, fussing with the ex over the kids, dealing with the inlaws, or some other tough relational situation.

There may be family members dealing with their own grief and sadness at the holidays. People and relationships are complicated and the holidays tend to bring those challenges to the forefront.

We all have different holiday stressors, but it’s no one else’s responsibility to manage them for us, which is why you’re reading this article, so let’s talk about how to stress less this year. 

How to Stress Less This Holiday

If there could be one good thing to come out of 2020, it is a springboard for changing Christmas time stress. 

No more, “But we’ve done it every year for (insert #) years!”

The threat of guilt or “obligational tradition” no longer holds sway. It’s a perfect time to institute the best choices for you and your family. 

If we’ve learned anything from the past couple of years, it’s that we can stop living life a lot faster than we realized. What’s really most important in life came into view and it’s easier to identify what isn’t truly necessary.

why the holidays are stressful

So how do you stress less this holiday? Get your “Expectations” in check:

  • Decide how and what is essential for you to celebrate 
  • Don’t try to please everyone, do what works best for you
  • Keep focused on what the holidays represent to you and your immediate family
  • Don’t do or participate in anything that makes you or your spouse unhappy
  • Ask for help, cooperation, understanding; whatever you need

Send your regrets and stand your ground if you want to stay home and not go to a Christmas function for any reason. You get to make decisions about your schedule and how you spend your time.

#1 Cause For Your Holiday Stress

I discussed the physiological reason for holiday stress, annual expectations, but what about the biological “cause?” I won’t make you wait; it’s illness

No, not necessarily an infection or cold, although that is quite common, holiday stress wears you down, and your body becomes “ill.” 

Simply put, stress floods our bodies with stress hormones, which cause inflammation, weight gain, immune system degradation, and can result in actual sickness and depression. 

Long-term exposure to stress (holidays and the months leading up to them) can actually cause your body to “shut down” due to the effects of stress: high blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, infections, and mental health issues.

When you don’t feel well, you still feel the pressure to meet your holiday expectations. You drag yourself from one task to another, feeling emotionally down, thus holiday stress. 

why the holidays are stressful

#1 Thing To Do To Reduce Christmas Time Stress: Prioritize

Managing holiday stress this year means prioritizing what is most important to you and letting go of the rest.

It’s easy to set up unrealistic expectations about how much time and energy you have available. Initially the calendar feels busy, but then more things get tacked on and before you know it you’re running from place to place trying to keep up with everything.

On top of that, reading or seeing what we should be doing or others post about what they are doing can cause FOBO, Fear of Being Ordinary, stress. It’s no wonder people are even more exhausted after the holidays than they were before them!

You can read all the tips and advice you want, but if you are serious about reducing Christmas time stress this year, you must take care of yourself first.

Simple Tips to Manage Holiday Stress: Self-Care

Start these four simple daily self-care tips now, so they become a healthy habit long before the stressful holiday season. You’ll be surprised how effective they are in managing holiday stress. 

Tip #1 Decompress for Daily Success

Do you exercise, bike, lift weights, run, walk, meditate, or do yoga daily? If you currently aren’t in the habit of doing those things currently, now may not be the best time to start. 

BUT! The “good” hormones that those activities release can actually counteract and inhibit the release of the nasty stress hormones we talked about earlier. So, how to make that happen?

Music! Sing your favorite songs while driving. Turn tunes on while cooking dinner or household chores. Studies have proven that music associated with your youth uplift and energize. 

Dance. One song, every day. Music and dance. Wonderful and freeing, dancing and singing to a song you love will unwind you; you’ll wonder at the simplicity of it. 

Tip #2 Get Dressed

Get dressed every day, even if you are a stay-at-home mom; none of this “roll out of bed and stay in the same tank and leggings” to commence your day without changing clothes. This goes for working moms on days off too.

You don’t need to get all made up for a day of doing laundry and work at home. However, you will feel better if you’ve taken a few minutes to get dressed and get ready for your day.

No matter what your day holds, you’ll feel better when you catch a glimpse in the mirror if you aren’t still wearing last night’s pjs.  

Tip #3 Simplify the Mess

Do not wait until the weekend before the holidays to start cleaning and preparing for company. Start now with The Best Things To Declutter Before The Holidays. Nobody ever said, “Man, I hate that I cleaned and decluttered my house early this year,” ever!

If your house is always a mess and you have trouble knowing where to start, that’s a holiday stressor. Try these 7 Simple Steps for A Cleaner Home and begin. If the idea alone overwhelms and stresses you, remember this:

“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”

Circling back to tip #2 for managing holiday stress, get rid of the clothes you don’t feel good in, and wear the stuff you do! Go to the “8 Clarifying Questions…” section about ruthless clothes decluttering; it will help immensely!

Bonus Tip: Make Appointments for Yourself

Don’t wait or put off getting your hair styled and cut, your teeth cleaned, or for that mani-pedi you intended to do months ago. Moms especially have a way of putting themselves last and getting everyone else’s appointments settled but their own.

Do whatever it is you need to do for you before the holidays. Usually, the first things scratched off the to-do list “to manage holiday stress” are what we need for ourselves. 

This isn’t about vanity; it’s about self-care. Self-care almost always comes last with Christmas time stress. If you want to manage holiday stress, self-care should be first. 

It’s a reciprocal relationship: 

When you look good, you feel good; when you feel good, you look good. 

Tip #4 Do Less

This year opt to not fill up your calendar with holiday commitments and obligations. Simplify your calendar and allow for more free time.

When you have more margin in your schedule, you’re able to do more spontaneous activities. Fewer activities also give you more time to relax and simply be.

Choose to do less shopping too. Limit your spending so that you don’t end up with holiday debt (which creates more holiday stress).

Reassess for Less Holiday Stress

Often the reason why the holidays are stressful is because we don’t stop to reflect on our priorities and question the choices that we’re making. This is why it’s important to reassess and address things that cause you holiday stress. 

You can make different choices this year that will simplify your holiday season and bring you more joy with less stress.

There are gentle but firm ways to assert your choices and decisions with extended family members. You can choose to do gift-giving differently.

Nothing is set in stone and it’s up to you to figure out what works best for you and your family. Decide what Christmas traditions are most important for your family, and let go of the rest.

Remember to take care of yourself during the holiday season too.

Simple Self Care Steps

  1. Decompress: Move your body in some way
  2. Get Dressed:  Wear what makes you happy
  3. Simplify the Mess: Clean and declutter 
  4. Do Less: Fewer commitments & obligations

Why the Holidays Are Stressful: Because We Let Them Be, But No More!

I hope these simple and doable tips for holiday stress help reduce stress at Christmas time. Identify those holiday stressors affecting your well-being and address them for ultimate success!.

Now that you know why the holidays are stressful and how to decrease it this year, I hope you have a relaxing and enjoyable holiday season!

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