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5 Reasons You Feel Holiday Stress (and Easy Ways to Fix It)

Why you feel stressed during the holidays

The holidays are the most stressful time of the year. Study after study has shown people feel like they have less time, more responsibilities, and higher expectations during the season, all contributing to holiday stress. All while combatting the effects of seasonal depression. The coldest season of the year isn’t very “chill.”

Holiday stressChristmas, Kwanza and Hanukkah are stressing Americans out. But it doesn’t have to be so mentally fatiguing. Here are 5 reasons the holidays stress you out, and how to deal with them.

1. Holiday stress from seasonal deadlines

The holidays mean plans, plans mean deadlines and deadlines mean stress. When do you need to have all your gift shopping done? When do you need to have all the groceries? How early in advance should you make the food? Who is doing what? So much to plan around. So much that could potentially be left undone.

But you shouldn’t let all holiday chores rest on your shoulders alone. Give everyone in the household a task they can complete. Divvy up responsibilities so you alone aren’t managing the entire holiday. Ask if relatives who are coming to visit can add an item or two to their grocery shopping to save you a trip. Many hands make light work, and light work makes for less stress during the holidays.

2. A packed scheduled leading to mental fatigue

For many, during the holiday rush, every new plan or another relative coming to visit means more trips to plan around, more grocery runs to do, and more people to host and care for. It can start to feel like an advent calendar where every day is a new surprise responsibility to keep track of. In addition, there are parties and school concerts to attend, end of year work deadlines, cards to get in the mail and baking.

Before the holiday gets into full swing, take a moment to sit down and really ask yourself how much time you can commit. Doing so in advance might give you a clearer picture of what’s possible to get into your plans, and what isn’t. You may have to cross something off your list. If a family member is making a request that just can’t fit, you may need to tell them (kindly) “no.” Talk with your spouse or partner about whose family you are seeing this year. Planning out what you’ll do (and what you won’t) can slim down your schedule.

3. Everything must be perfect during the holidays

Oh, the expectation. It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, right? So, everything must be spotless. Every event must be on time. Every family visit must be on the dot. Your holiday stress isn’t a second job, don’t treat it like one. While sticking to a schedule can be helpful, it shouldn’t stress you out to the point you aren’t enjoying yourself. It’s OK for plans to fall through, food to get burnt, or items to get lost and forgotten. It’s not the end of the world, and certainly not the cause for panic.

4. The dreaded “arguing uncle” at the family dinner

Everyone has one: The uncle (or another family member) that just HAS to bring up that hot button issue at the dinner table, because God forbid, we just have a nice meal. Just the thought of that family member and the chaos they cause can leave you on edge the entire month. But there’s nothing wrong with asking (even sternly) to leave the fiery discussions for another night, especially if it’s under your own roof. Make it clear this is supposed to be a night for fun and laughter, not blood sports.

5. Money saving during the holidays

Possibly the biggest causes of holiday stress. The holidays are an absolute drain on savings. Meals, gifts, decorations and more. It all puts a hamper on your bank account. But remember, and not to sound cheesy, but Christmas, Kwanza and Hanukkah aren’t about those things; they’re about time spent with the people you care about most. These are religious and cultural holidays with deep meaning.

If you dread huge price tags, talk to your family and friends about setting a price limit for gifts. They likely won’t say no, because they are trying to save money too!

Before you hit the stores, make a budget for what you are willing to spend. Make cuts where you can. It’s OK to not have everything. Get the necessities, and if you have a little cash left over, then start to think about the bells and whistles.

There could be other things unrelated to the holidays that, simply put, aren’t doing you any favors. Maybe you are stressed from work, or responsibilities as a parent are weighing you down. These things might seem unrelated, but they could be the niggling worries in the background that make typical holiday stress seem insurmountable. If you are experiencing daily stress, from the holidays or just from life, pay attention to it. Your mental health matters.

At OhioGuidestone, we are in the business of helping people like you. Our therapists are available in-person or via telehealth to give you the time and attention you need to overcome your issues. Therapy can bring an unbelievable clarity and calmness to your life. Consider talking to someone today.