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Beat Holiday Stress with these Four Strategies

Strategies Holiday Season

Beat Holiday Stress with These Four Strategies 

By: Shawn English, with ChatGPT (-3.5), Open AI {}

Holidays can mean holiday stress for some. The holiday season is often thought of as a time of joy, family, and celebration. However, for many people, it can also be a period of stress, anxiety, and exhaustion. 

The pressure to create the perfect holiday experience, combined with gift shopping, social obligations, and financial strain, can be harmful to mental and emotional well-being. Fortunately, there are several effective strategies that individuals can use to make the holiday season less stressful. 

Let’s look at four approaches to having a low-stress holiday season: setting realistic expectations, prioritizing self-care, embracing simplicity, and fostering meaningful connections.


1. Setting Realistic Expectations

One of the primary sources of holiday stress is the unrealistic expectations people place on themselves. People often envision picture-perfect celebrations based on the images they see in movies, advertisements, and social media. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and disappointment when it doesn’t meet those expectations. To reduce holiday stress, it is crucial to set realistic expectations.

Firstly, recognize that perfection is an unattainable goal. Imperfections are part of what makes the holidays unique and memorable. Instead of striving for flawless decorations, elaborate feasts, and perfectly wrapped gifts, focus on the joy of spending time with loved ones and creating meaningful moments. Understand that it’s okay to have a few accidents or unplanned moments—oftentimes these become good memories in the future.

Secondly, manage your commitments wisely. Many people overextend themselves during the holiday season by accepting too many invitations or taking on too many responsibilities. Say no when necessary and prioritize events and activities that truly matter to you.

Additionally, when it comes to getting gifts, set reasonable expectations for your budget. Financial stress can be a significant source of anxiety. Create a realistic budget for gifts and stick to it. Remember that thoughtful and meaningful presents do not necessarily have to be expensive.


2. Prioritizing Self-Care

During the holiday season, it’s easy to neglect self-care and become consumed with planning, shopping, and socializing. However, taking care of yourself is crucial to managing stress and enjoying the holidays. Here are some self-care techniques that might help:

  • Maintain a Healthy Routine: During the busy holiday season, it’s vital to stick to your regular routines as much as possible. Getting enough sleep, having a balanced diet, and regular exercise can reduce stress. Don’t skip your regular workouts or healthy eating habits just because it’s the holidays.


  • Set Aside “Me” Time: Schedule moments for yourself for relaxation. Whether it’s reading a book, taking a bath, or simply meditating for a few minutes, these breaks can help recharge your energy and reduce stress.
  • Ask for Help: Don’t try to do everything on your own. Get the help of family members or friends for holiday preparations. Splitting up tasks and sharing responsibilities can reduce a lot of stress.
  • Limit Technology Use: Constant notifications and the pressure to document every moment of the holiday season on social media can add stress. Try putting boundaries on technology and phone use. 

3. Embracing Simplicity

Embracing simplicity can significantly reduce stress and help refocus the holiday season on its true meaning. Here are some ways to simplify your celebrations:

  • Simplify Decorations: Instead of going overboard with elaborate decorations, try for a more minimalistic approach. Choose a few meaningful decorations that create a cozy, festive atmosphere without overwhelming your space or your time.


  • Plan Simple Meals: While a big holiday feast can be a great tradition, it can also be incredibly time-consuming and stressful to prepare. Try simplifying your menu by focusing on a few dishes, or even try asking the guests to each bring different food items, and when put together create a large and diverse meal.
  • Choose Experiences Over Things: Another approach is instead of purchasing material gifts, consider buying experiences such as tickets to a concert, a spa day, or a weekend getaway. These experiences create lasting memories and could be more meaningful than physical presents.


  • Reevaluate Traditions: Take a closer look at your holiday traditions and consider whether they add joy or stress to your life. It’s okay to let go of traditions that no longer have an important purpose to you and your family.

4. Fostering Connections

At its core, the holiday season is about coming together, sharing love and joy, and creating lasting memories with family and friends. Fostering connections can be one of the most enjoyable parts and can significantly reduce stress. Here’s how to prioritize relationships during the holidays:

  • Quality Over Quantity: Instead of spreading yourself thin by attending numerous gatherings and events, focus on spending quality time with loved ones. Fewer but more meaningful interactions can lead to deeper connections and less stress.


  • Practice Gratitude: Take time to reflect on the things you are grateful for during the holiday season. Having gratitude can shift your focus from stressors to the positive aspects of your life.


  • Open Communication: Have open and honest communication with family and friends. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, don’t hesitate to share your feelings and ask for support. Chances are, those people are experiencing similar emotions and will be willing to help.


  • Reduce Technology Use: Limit distractions from technology and be fully present when spending time together. Engage in conversations, play games, and create opportunities for connections.


The holiday season should be a time of joy, connection, and reflection, not a period with lots of stress and anxiety. By implementing these four strategies—setting realistic expectations, prioritizing self-care, embracing simplicity, and fostering connections—you can create a low-stress holiday season that allows you to truly enjoy this time of year.

Get Anxiety Counseling in Boulder, CO

Start navigating your holidays  with a little less of anxiety . Our team of trained therapists  can provide you with the support to help you have a low-stress holiday season.

  1. Contact our therapy center to request an appointment.
  2. Learn more about our therapists and other available therapy
  3. Start anxiety counseling with us.

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