Is Holiday Stress Getting To You?

Is the stress of the holidays starting to get to you?

Do you feel like you won’t get it all done perfectly or on time?

If your expectations on what the holidays should look like have been influenced by other’s, especially the media, then it may be time to re-evaluate those expectations.

Check out the six questions below to find out if your holiday stress may be caused by unrealistic expectations.  If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the questions you’ll want to check out the next section below that.  There you will find a list of symptoms of unrealistic expectations and tips on how to cure them.

Test Questions:   

  1. Do you think your holidays/Christmas this year will be absolutely wonderful?
  2. Do you have more than two holiday shopping lists in your purse or pocket?
  3. Do you usually mail off your gift packages too late to arrive by Christmas?
  4. Do you feel that no mater how much you spend on presents you won’t have given enough?
  5. Do you usually get sick or injured at holiday time?
  6. Do you ever feel like giving up the holidays altogether?

Symptoms and Cures:

1.  Television and other media influence holiday dreams.

A.  Ideal Picture

1.  Blissful, happy families
2.  Neat, cheerful, and perfectly decorated homes.
3.  Time honored rituals.

 B.  Reality

1.  Rarely is everyone completely happy at the same time.
2.  With a change of routines it’s hard to keep the house looking perfect.
3.  Times change, people change. Sometimes rituals are outdated.

 C.  THE CURE: Lower your expectations on what you think your holiday should
‘look’ like to others. Focus on spending time with family and friends instead of spending time on trying to make the “perfect” Christmas. Be thankful for whatever happy moments do occur.

2.  Too much to do.

A.  Lists upon lists upon lists.

B.  THE CURE: Lighten the load. Make one list of everything then cross out half.

3.   Pocketbook panic.

 A.  Not making a budget or sticking with the one you made.

 B.  Charging everything and not keeping track.

 C.   THE CURE:  Realize what is happening.

1.  Children – explain budget (if old enough) and plan requests accordingly.
2.  Friends and/or family – agree to cut out gift giving or put a spending limit.
3.  Draw names to limit the total number of people you have to buy gifts for.

 4.   Illness and Exhaustion.

 A.  Causes:

1.  Doing too much by yourself.
2. Feeling guilty that whatever you do isn’t enough.
3. Feeling angry about the pressure to be happy on cue.
4. Staying up late or getting up early to get things done.
5. Filling our normal times for rest and leisure activities with stressful holiday activities we expect to be fun, but aren’t.


1.  Realize pressures may distract us from normal routines of healthful eating, exercise, rest, relaxation, and sleep. Try to balance it.
2.  Think in small time periods;

A.  Instead of; “In January I’ll get myself back together.”
B.  Say; “Today I’ll take small breaks during the day to rest or exercise.”

3.  It’s okay to enjoy the times when nothing is happening. Don’t over commit or over schedule.

 5.   Missing the point.

A.  THE CURE: get a better perspective on the real meaning of the holidays. It’s
not about having the best decorated house in the neighborhood or giving the most gifts. Think about what is really is important to your family, your religion, and your community.

When you focus your time and energy on what is really important to you and your family you will find you can have a wonderful holiday season.  True happiness is being grateful for the special moments spent with those you love.

The things above are just a few symptoms and cures to help reduce your stress at this time of year.  If you have any suggestions to add to this list please share them in the comment section.  I know all my readers (and I) would appreciate it. Thanks.

Happy Holidays,