Although the holidays should be a happy time of the year, this is the time of the year when people are most stressed.

The causes for this stress vary. 

Maybe money was tight this year and you can’t get people the gifts you had hoped to get them.

Or perhaps you dread seeing a difficult family member.

Whatever the case, the stress is real and if it is left unchecked, it could affect everything else.

The good news: you don’t have to dread your holidays. 

So how do you bust through holiday stress?

In this post, I outline 12 practical tips to help you deal with the end-of-year festivities.

12 practical ways to bust through holiday stress

  1. Be realistic and come to an agreement on gifts – When money is tight, giving gifts can feel like a burden. If you’re experiencing a season of difficulty, don’t force yourself to give lavish gifts. Come to an agreement with whoever you exchange gifts with about your situation. Perhaps, you could agree to stick to gifts under between $20-$50. We promise, you will still enjoy your holidays without an expensive (read: stress-inducing) gift.
  2. Agree to disagree – Do you have different political ideas from someone in your family? Has been this been a cause for fights during family celebrations? Agree to disagree with them. Yes, we can’t always get the other person to change their chosen side but we can agree with them that just for those few hours you’re together, nobody will bring that topic up. 
  3. Stay off social media – Social media is well-documented to make people sad. Seeing colleagues at work enjoy family dinners and outings when you’re not doing the same can be depressing. So skip out on it. Delete the app from your phone. Do whatever it takes to avoid social media so you can reduce your stress levels.
  4. Shake up those traditions. – If you’ve had certain holiday traditions for a very long time, it can feel as if you’re just going through the motions. Shake things up a little. Instead the same old traditions, why not try something new? Do you always stay at home for Christmas? If you have the money, how about taking a trip to somewhere nice and warm?
  5. Use your time off to reconnect with fun outdoor activities – Exercise is well-known to boost a person’s sense of well-being. Use your time off from work to enjoy (or try new) outdoor activities. Never hiked before? Go hiking. Is the weather good enough for biking? Ride your bike outside for a few hours. Play football with the family. Incorporate these fun outdoor activities to get out of the house and improve your mood.
  6. Journal your emotions – One of the best ways to combat stress is to first admit to yourself that you’re stressed. Take a pen and paper and write down what you’re going through. Admit that there are areas of your life you’re not happy with. Becoming self-aware of your emotions increases the chances that you will do something to help you heal.
  7. Pick up a fiction book – Pick up your favorite genre of fiction novels and enjoy away!
  8. Saying no is okay – You don’t need to go to the tenth party in a row if you don’t feel like it. Saying no is okay. Explain that you’d like to enjoy some time alone and use that them to recuperate.
  9. Get the sleep you need – There’s the temptation to stay up until the wee hours of the day during the holidays. This can add to your stress levels as well. Stay rested to bust through that stress!
  10. Stick with your daily routine – A lack of a daily routine during the holiday can throw you off. Even though you may not be at work, still create some structure for your day just you’d have a work. You will fair much better and definitely reduce the stress.
  11. Do less. Enjoy more – Around the holidays, there’s always pressure to do so much especially if you’re hosting people in your home. Can you get someone to clean your house for $25 instead of doing it all yourself? Hire them to clean up for you. Instead of cooking all your holiday meals, how about ordering some of those dishes in? 
  12. Volunteer – Volunteering is a good way to look beyond ourselves and our problems so we can impact others. It can also help with perspective-you might realize during your volunteer work that even though you have valid problems, some people have it worse. 

Those are my 12 tips for busting through holiday stress.

Found this post helpful? Share it with someone else so they can reduce their holiday stress levels as well.