• Acelli Crippen-Kok

Guide to Managing Stress During the Holiday Season

What is it about the holidays that brings our stress levels to their breaking points? As festive and happy as the holidays are supposed to be, what causes our stress levels to skyrocket? More often than not it’s thanks to expectations….

  • Perfect meals.

  • Choosing the perfect gifts for loved ones, party hosts, co-workers, and even our dogs.

  • Perfectly wrapped gifts.

  • Planning the perfect social gathering, or dinner parties.

  • Decorating the perfect tree.

  • Creating perfect core memories for our kids.

  • Traveling to celebrate with family in a different state, country, etc.

  • Making sure every tradition is kept up “for the happy memories”.

Do any of these things ring true for you? Have your shoulders started to tense up thinking about the upcoming holidays?

managing holiday stress

Notice an Increase in Your Stress During the Holidays

Overwhelming is one word many describe the end of the year holidays. We all want to have the “perfect” holiday, no matter the cost to our finances, physical, and mental health. Why? Sometimes it’s family pressure, and guilt. Many times it’s a need to just be perfect, because most of our lives we’ve had to make sure everything was perfect to make sure those closest to us don’t have any reason to pick us apart.


Even more often it’s because we’re living in a world where we compare ourselves to others. Is this “Instagram-worthy” is now our favorite unit of measure when it comes to basically everything in our lives. Why would the holidays be any different, right?


Pictures of pristinely decorated Thanksgiving tablescapes around beautifully prepared turkeys, elaborate holiday decorations, hundreds of perfectly wrapped gifts under Christmas trees are all over social media challenging others to meet the same unachievable standards. Yes, that’s right, these images aren’t attainable! They are all highly stylized and staged. Often, people on social media hire professionals to decorate, or they may do it themselves, but someone else is paying them to do it and share the content on Instagram.


Basically, Instagram isn’t real life anymore. It has lost its original purpose of being “instant” and capturing what people are doing at random times during their daily lives. However, we feel the stress in a multitude of ways.


  • Irritability (even the slightest inconvenience can set someone off)

  • Headaches

  • Overwhelming sadness

  • General malaise

  • Anxiety

  • Insomnia

  • Body aches

  • Full-on depression

Sometimes there’s no way around holiday stress, however, there are ways to manage it when you feel it happening.


Managing Holiday Stress

If you’re feeling stress and need help managing holiday stress, you are absolutely not alone. Whether you feel the strain of planning travel, or living up to expectations, or jamming in every holiday tradition into the holiday season, holiday stress messes with all of us in one way or another. It’s time to take a step back, and focus on managing the stress so we can actually enjoy the holidays instead of dreading them!


Say NO Without Guilt

I said it. Just say no to people, places, things, and anything else you feel like saying no to. Understand that you cannot be everything to everyone. But do not stop there! Show yourself kindness by not feeling guilty for saying no. It’s not an easy adjustment, and it’s okay to ask for help to learn the fine art of acknowledging your feelings and moving past them.


Let Go of the Idea of Perfection

Remind yourself that perfection is an illusion. It’s also subjective! What’s perfect to you may not be what’s perfect to someone else. Life is messy, and the holiday season doesn’t stop the messy nature of life. It often amplifies the chaos when we’re pushing too hard to make it “perfect” for our family, friends, pets, and ourselves. Release the need for that perfect holiday season. Embrace the idea that holidays are about relaxing, spending time doing fun stuff, and eating holiday-themed foods.


Create and Stick With Your Budget

Don’t compete with other people when giving gifts, decorating, or throwing parties. Plan your expenses so you don’t put yourself into holiday debt trying to “keep up with the Joneses”. Kids don’t need tons of gifts, and no one needs huge parties to truly enjoy the holidays. Make a promise to yourself not to overextend yourself, and stick to your budget.


Plan Ahead, but Forgive Yourself If You Need to Reschedule or Cancel Plans

Do you love to attend local holiday events? Is your family in a different location and you have to travel over the holidays? Are you the one who does all the gift shopping and wrapping? Don’t wing it, schedule it. Most importantly, forgive yourself if you need to cancel or reschedule your plans.


Find Time for YOU

Listen, I get how gratifying and inspiring it is to give your time. We all know how fulfilling the act of giving is. What most of us forget is how important it is to give to ourselves, too. We need to take care of ourselves throughout the holiday season to help manage holiday stress. Going to bed early, eating well, and participating in non-holiday centered fun activities is important to feed your soul after giving others so much of your time and energy.


There’s nothing wrong with letting everyone know you need some time to yourself! Head to your local coffee shop for a hot beverage and baked goody, and then bring that hot beverage to your favorite nail salon for a relaxing pedicure followed by a manicure. Do things that bring you joy, and help center you, whatever those things may be!


Ask For Help

This sounds simple, but many people find this one the most difficult (kind of on par with letting go of needing things to be perfect): ask for help!


Providing Help for Holiday Season Stress

During the holiday season many find it difficult to ask family members and friends for help managing holiday stress. Even if you do have people around you willing to help, you may not want to ask for help from them. It’s understandable. When you’re ready to ask for help, I’m here ready, willing and able to help. See if I’m the right fit for you and your needs.






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