Self-Help Articles for Stress, Depression, Anxiety, Anger, Counseling, CBT and REBT. Info on herbs and herbal natural remedies, therapy worksheets. > 7 Tips to Overcome Holiday Stress

Do you get the Christmas blues? Are you stressed out at the holidays? Do you feel depressed during the holiday season?


Follow these tips and you'll find your holiday season to be much less stressful.  By Ramona Creel  




The first key to creating a peaceful holiday season is identifying those holiday traditions that you ENJOY and those that you don’t. When you spend your precious time and energy on activities that you don’t find rewarding, you are destined to become FRUSTRATED and cranky. So go ahead and be honest with yourself before the season even starts. Make a list of every possible holiday “obligation” that you can think of. Your list might contain (but not be limited to) the following:

- send greeting cards
- bake holiday goodies
- decorate the house
- shop for gifts
- wrap gifts
- make the holiday meal
- attend church services
- go caroling
- volunteer
- visit extended family
- visit friends
- spend time with spouse
- plan family get-together
- spend time with kids
- decorate the tree
- clean house
- shop for food
- attend a concert/play

 -watch holiday TV
- visit Santa
- look at lights
- host a party
- attend a party
- take a walk in nature


Now, here’s the real trick -- circle those items that you absolutely enjoy doing and don’t want to miss out on this holiday season. And cross out those that you hate, despise, and dread. Be HONEST here! If you loathe baking, don’t try to convince yourself that this year you will turn into Donna Reed with a batch of homemade gingerbread. And you can get very specific if you need to.


You might love visiting with your parents, but can’t stand seeing your critical Aunt Louise. That’s fine -- make visiting your parents one activity and seeing Aunt Louise another. It might be a good idea to have everyone in your family make their own lists -- everyone has different ideas about what activities are joyous and which ones are miserable.





Take a look at your list -- which items did you circle? Did you feel so strongly about some activities that you double-circled them or put a star by the side? Those are your true priorities -- and no matter what you do this season, you need to MAKE time to fit them in.


Notice I didn’t say “find” time -- the best way to assure that you will never get around to doing something is to say, “I’ll do it when I find a few free minutes.” If you want to do it, SCHEDULE it into your calendar. If walking around your neighborhood with your family singing carols and looking at holiday lights is a priority, sit down together and pick an evening and have everyone block it off. It’s as simple as that.

So at the start of the season, decide ahead of time which activities on everyone’s lists are the most important. Of course, you’ll have to be realistic about what you have time for -- you may only have enough room in your schedule for each person to pick three priorities instead of eight. And you may need to do a little TRADING with your loved ones -- “I’ll go to Christmas Eve services with you, and in return I’d like for you to go for a nature walk on Saturday with me.”


Creating harmony in any situation is about COMPROMISING -- just don’t allow yourself to bend so far that you give up all of your priorities for someone else’s. Everyone should feel that his or her needs are being met.


So the big question now is “how do I fit in all of these priorities when I’ve got other chores to do?” It can seem hard to make time for caroling and roasting chestnuts and all of the good stuff when you have so many OBLIGATIONS. Those “I have to’s” will absolutely kill you! Well let me start by asking WHY you “have to”?

Are you being graded on how much you accomplish during the holidays? Are you going to be judged harshly by your family, friends, and co-workers if you skip out on the cards or parties or baking this year? If they do judge you harshly, I guess you need to ask yourself why you would want to have that kind of people in your life in the first place! If you don’t want to do it, a simple NO should be sufficient – especially if you find an activity that everyone in your household has crossed off of their lists. Remember, the only things that you “have to” do in this life are pay taxes and die -- putting up a Christmas tree isn’t required!

Let me share a story to illustrate. A few years ago, my husband and I had a really rough year and decided to SKIP OUT on the traditional family Christmas get-together for the first time in our lives.

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