Holiday Stress

For many, this time of year is more like ‘tis the season to be stressed rather than be blessed. The reason for this is as varied as you can imagine. Automatically some would think it was due to not having enough money; which is true for many. However, the number one reason, as noted by Alex Chris (2012), is the absence of a loved one. 

For my family, that reason couldn’t be truer. We lost my older brother back in 2006 and our family hasn’t been the same since, especially during the holidays and other significant times of the year. We’ve all lost important people in our lives and the holidays seem to highlight the fact that they’re gone. 

It’s been primarily due to the help of my counselor that I’ve been able to cope with the holidays by sharing with her my stress, sadness and frustration. Her advice and listening skills help me to function through Thanksgiving and Christmas with a better foundation. So what if you don’t want to talk to a counselor?  Well, why not seek out a friend who will help you get things off your chest?

The second reason for holiday stress is family misunderstandings or miscommunication. This can be caused by pressure from people wanting to do celebrations ‘their way’ or doing it differently than family tradition dictates. Did someone break the spending limit making you feel bad for your smaller purchase or did you agree to not exchange gifts only to have others decide to give them at the last minute? 

These situations can be ratcheted down several notches with clear communication of expectations and reality based on your family dynamics. If you don’t feel that this is possible, allow yourself off the hook from the feelings that come with the actions and words of others. Easier said than done right? That depends on you. With practice this can become easier. Just know that you cannot control another person and remember to not allow them free reign in your head. 

The third reason is financial difficulties. Christmas has become so commercialized that we are trained to feel obligated to purchase gifts for everyone we know and sometimes those that we hardly know. It’s stressful enough even with money and it can feel impossible for those very little money or none at all.

What is the one thing that doesn’t cost anything to give? Love; plain and simple. In its purest form, love is a gift in itself. Another thing that doesn’t cost money is time. Spending time with loved ones is often all they want from us whether we live near or far from them. 

If you feel like giving gifts, set realistic goals in how much you’re willing to spend and be ok with that limit. Instead of buying for everyone, considering purchasing gifts just for the children in the family. Another option is to make something with your own hands. Speaking for myself, I cherish a handmade gift so much more because of the thought and love that goes in to making it.

The reasons above are by no means the limit of what causes stress during the holidays. Yes it can be easier to hide our feelings behind the holiday cheer we’re supposed to exude rather than deal with the core of the issue. But what does that get you?  Just more stress. Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself permission to be ok with your decisions as only you can make you happy.

Until next time, discover the power of fostering a stress-free, happier holiday!

Chris, A. (2012, July 15). 6 Causes of Christmas Stress and Depression. Retrieved from

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