5 Tips for Combating Holiday Stress

I know that the holidays are “supposed to” be a time of joy and merriment, but that’s not always the case for all of us. It’s so easy to become a stress monster during the holidays when you start to feel pulled in 20 different directions.

If that sounds like you, then check out this week’s video for some tips to combat holiday stress.

The Holiday Circus Has Begun!

The holidays are here! If you've been to a grocery store in the last three days, you'll see that from floor to ceiling, they have all of their holiday decorations out. I know that Costco has decked everything out. Here in Boulder, Colorado, it starting to feel a little bit more like winter with this fresh eight inches or so of snow that we've just gotten.

Unrealistic Holiday Expectations Cause Stress

If you believe all of the retailers' versions of things, the holidays are supposed to be this wonderful joyful time in our lives, and we are all just supposed to look like a Norman Rockwell family, and cook like Martha Stewart, and be these wonderful, warm, happy balls of joy!

But I know that that's just not realistic for everybody. I mean c’mon, we’re real people, you and I. And the harder that we try to do those things, the more stressed out we become. We try to get all the right gifts for everybody. We try to throw the best party. We try to have all of the best decorations, and the most beautifully Martha Stewart set holiday table for all of our guests to come over.

Meanwhile, we're trying to keep Uncle Jack over here from arguing with cousin Susie's new boyfriend about politics and tearing down all of these beautiful new decorations that we've just put up.

The Holidays Can Turn Us Into Stress Monsters

In the middle of all of this, we just become this frenzied, stressed mess. I don't know if that's ever happened to you, but I've certainly had those moments to myself. And in trying to make everything so perfectly right, I end up feeling so perfectly wrong, and I've had many clients tell me similar things. So, if that sounds at all like you or something that happens to you during the holidays, then I want you to just stop right now and breathe. All the way in and out.

I know it's so easy to get caught up in the hustle and the bustle, and all of the expectations that are often surrounding the holidays. If that happens and you get super stressed, I want you to try a few of these tips.

Tips for Fighting Holiday Stress

Tip 1: Let Go of Perfection

I want you to try and let go of the idea that things have to be absolutely perfect, because perfection ultimately doesn't exist. Norman Rockwell made lovely paintings and Martha Stewart cooks lovely desserts. But she has a team of people that help her with all of those things and a camera crew to make everything look just perfectly. And you probably have just you, and maybe one or two family members that ... while they say that they're helping, are probably also running around and creating a mess as well.

So, see if you can loosen your grip on that idea of perfection and everything having to be just right because that will get you worked up into a frenzy faster than anything else.

Tip 2: Learn to Say “NO”

Tip number two is to learn to say no when you need to say no. It is so easy to say yes to all of the holiday invites. "Oh, I have to go this person's party. And so-and-so from work invited us to this, and my husband's boss invited us to that, and I have to bake cookies for my kids' class," etc. Again…Breathe.

Do you have to go to all of those things? Do you want to go to all of those things? And would it be healthier and more sane for you to say no to a couple of those things, right? Could you go pick up grocery store cookies and bring those to your kid's classroom rather than home baking the perfect Martha Stewart, instagram-worthy desert?

Tip 3: Set Healthy Boundaries

Tip number three is try to set healthy boundaries, especially with family members over the holidays. I know that not everybody has that perfect Norman Rockwell family where they gather around the table and everybody hugs and kisses and is so happy to see each other. To be honest, sometimes we're at each other's throats. Or maybe Uncle Jack has completely different political beliefs than you are. Every time he opens his mouth, you just want to strangle him, which would not be so conducive to the holiday spirit, right?

It's okay to set healthy boundaries with your family. And if Uncle Jack brings up his views that are incredibly extremist in your point of view, and you say, "You know what, Uncle Jack? This isn't the time that I want to talk about that or this isn't the place." And if you literally need to get up and walk away, that's okay. You have the right to do that to protect your own sanity.

Tip 4: Reach Out for Connection

If you are getting caught up in this frenzy, in this whirlwind of trying to make everything perfect and good enough ... then I want you to pause for a second and ask yourself who you are trying to impress?

Rather than isolating and trying to hide the parts of you or your house that aren’t perfect, try reaching out to a trusted friend of loved one and sharing what’s going on. Share your holiday stress or your frustration/disappointment that this is not quite what you wanted it to be with someone else, because that causes it to lose its power - just by speaking it out loud. And maybe you’ll find that your friend or family member is also hiding all of their kid’s junk piled so high in a closet that it might kill the next suspecting person who opens it!


Last, but certainly not least, I want you to take some time to slow down. You might have to make this time, or deliberately carve it out. Go take a walk. Feel the crunch of the snow underneath your feet. Sit by the fire and curl up with a good book or a warm puppy in your comfy pajamas and just let yourself be nourished by whatever it is that you need to be nourished by, even if it's not some instagram-worthy, perfect photo. That's okay.

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