I don’t know about you, but when November rolls around there starts to be this build-up of holiday stress. My husband and I both have two sets of parents and at one point we were all living in 3 different states. It was a lot like that Four Christmases movie with Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn, but less funny.
Then when the kids came along and I was having to survive LONG car rides with poopy diapers, snacks, broken DVD players, and meltdowns ( mine as much as the kids), I just decided things had to change.
So over the last few years, I’ve found a few ways to make sure that holiday stress doesn’t overcome me and steal my holiday joy. No matter what holidays we celebrate, we want to soak up the magic and the goodness of it.
Why do holidays cause stress?
Well, I think the opening paragraph paints a pretty good picture of what holiday stress looked like for me personally, but yours might be different. The truth is the holidays are unique to each family. Your stress might stem from:
- Unhealthy relationships with family members
- Having to buy and wrap too many gifts
- Having large amounts of people over to your house
- Having to cook a large fancy meal
I don’t know- you tell me. What makes the holidays hard for you? If you can identify those triggers, it makes it much easier to come up with a plan to tackle those pain points.
If you are unsure of what it is that creates holiday stress for you, I’d try making a list of the things you don’t enjoy during the holidays. Why don’t you enjoy it? Actually list these things out on paper.
If you still can’t pinpoint it, I totally suggest talking it out with a life coach. Mine has helped me open my eyes to why I feel a certain way about certain life things when I couldn’t really name it myself.
How do I get rid of holiday stress?
Well, I’m about to tell you, friend!
Set good, HARD, healthy boundaries.
Say no to things you need to say no to. I know there are a lot of times we feel obligated to say yes to things because we don’t want to disappoint anyone ( #peoplepleaser). I promise I understand that feeling SO well, but one thing I’ve done over the last year is to learn to say no to things that truly affect my mental health.
It doesn’t have to be a mean “no.” It can be a gracious “no.”
Let’s run through an example:
Aunt Sharon:” Hey can we have Christmas at your house this year? You are such a great cook and I know everyone would love to have a meal cooked by you.”
You: ( thinking that having to fund and cook a big meal, while also obsessively cleaning your house for multiple guests sounds terrifying and stressful.)
You: Thank you so much for thinking of me Aunt Sharon- that’s so nice of you to say! Unfortunately this year, I won’t be able to do that.
BOOM.End of sentence.
You just told Aunt Sharon “no” without being rude or going overboard in detail. I think sometimes we feel like we have to have a better reason than “ I don’t want to” but you truly don’t. We have to learn to say “no” and not feel guilty about it or feel the need to create grand stories of why we can’t.
If Aunt Sharon asks why tell her to mind her own business. Just kidding! (Kind of).
Just stick firmly to your no and reiterate that it’s not a good year for you. The funny thing is you might actually be proud of yourself for standing your ground and taking care of yourself. Your holiday stress is already lower because you didn’t commit to something that would be overwhelming for you.
Use your oils
I know, I know. Tori suggests using oils …again. Big surprise.
Well, I can’t help it. The dang things are just too versatile and helpful- and you can bet that keeping them diffusing and rolled on will help cut down on that holiday stress big time.
(check out my Instagram post here on the 4 oils everyone needs for the holidays!)
I love keeping my house smelling festive during the fall. Every day I’m loading my diffuser up with anything Vanilla, Clove, Cinnamon, Orange, or straight-up Christmas Spirit. The smell just makes all my decorations prettier!
But this is also a good time to make sure you are also diffusing oils that are helpful for stress. Try diffusing or rubbing on oils like:
- Stress Away
- Peace and Calming
When it comes to oils that help my stress levels, I really love to rub them on my neck and chest. I usually take a little extra in my hands and do a little scent tent with some big deep breaths. This helps me soap up all the goodness of the oil while getting a nice hit to my limbic system. I have more tips on how to properly use oils here.
Make gift giving practical and simple
Gift-giving is one of my love languages. I genuinely enjoy trying to find a great, thoughtful, practical gift for each person. The problem is with as large as a family we have, it started to get overwhelming. I would try to spend high dollar amounts on each person and feel like I had to spend the same on each to make it fair and between the stress of finding the right gift and budgeting, it was just a mess.
Mental note for us all: big-ticket items don’t equal the best gift. You don’t have to spend a fortune to buy a really thoughtful and great present.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think any of us care how much money someone spends on us. It’s the thoughtful part of the gift that is nice. So now my system is to write down on a list the names of people I need to buy gifts for and something I think they will like. It’s possible that what they might like is a generic gift card to pick out what they want on their own. Sometimes we feel like we aren’t doing a good job if we only get a gift card, but if you don’t have any specific idea, I promise that a visa gift card is better than that weird bronze statue you picked up at the last minute.
Like our example above with Aunt Sharon, we know some holiday stress can come from the pressure of cooking a big fancy meal. Here are my thoughts on this:
- Invite some family or friends over to help and delegate what they can bring. Cooking together can be a fun activity so invite others to join in. ( I know for some this could be just even more stressful so if so skip to option #2)
- OR just simplify your meals. This could mean picking up the turkey or ham precooked. It could mean not doing traditional food like turkey or ham at all. This year two of my best friends and I are getting together for Friendsgiving and we all agreed ordering sushi would be the best idea. Sure the pilgrims didn’t eat sushi, but we do!
How do I deal with my holiday anxiety?
Well, I hope all the options above give you the choices for ways to deal with holiday stress and anxiety!
- Set boundaries- say no to things that just emotionally drain you
- Use your oils- notice I didn’t say buy oils, but USE the oils you have and use them a lot
- Simple gifts- everyone eats, uses gas, needs toiletries, or enjoys a cooked treat
- Simplify meals- just order pizza if you need to
If you need other ideas on how to lower your holiday stress or general stress naturally, try these 6 tricks!