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5 Ways To Reduce Your Holiday Stress

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Hallmark tells us the now through January 1 should be a time of warm hugs, warm mugs of something tasty, and lots of quiet time spent by the fire… 

But, let’s be honest – Instead of joy and connection and yuletide cheer, more often than not we’re in a constant state of wanting to rip our hair out.

And, the more strain you put on yourself, your family and your wallet, the less room you’ll have to truly enjoy the magic of the season

According to a survey by Healthline, 62% of people said their stress level increases during the holiday season. (No surprise there)…

But what about the other 38% of non-stressed folks? What are they doing different?

It could be that they’re using one or all of the pre-holiday stress-fighting techniques below. 


1. Write Out Your To-Do List

86 the mental list. Opt instead to create a written list of everything you need to do and when you need to do it. Bonus points if you put it on a calendar so you can see the birds eye view of your holiday “battle plan”. Does your gift shopping need to be done by a specific date? Write that down. Got a string of neighborhood and company holiday parties? Write that down too!

The idea here is that when you everything written down and mapped out in one place (and not in your head), it often times feels much more manageable. (And it makes the possibility of getting sidelined by something unexpected much less likely)

2. Refrain from “Shoulding” All Over Yourself

Your holiday decorations SHOULD look like they were handmade by Martha Stewart. Every gift SHOULD communicate lots of care and thought and love. Everyone SHOULD get along every second of every minute spent together, and we SHOULD all sing carols on key with wide-eyed smiles on our faces and our feet SHOULD smell like peppermint and frankincense… 

Many psychology experts agree that it’s your attachment to how things SHOULD be that results in most (if not all) of your holiday stress. Even if you just lighten up and let go of a FEW of your expectations for things being a certain way, you’ll find that your level of stress will go down, and your level of enjoyment will go up.


3. Make A Holiday Spending Plan

This one is a game changer. Take time to think about all your holiday expenses (gifts, decorations, parties, etc) and decide exactly how much you will spend. 

Make a plan, but more importantly, STICK to the plan! Do whatever it takes to avoid impulse spending, and when you reach the finish line for your budget, that’s it. You’re done. 

For a free budgeting tool, check out the Dave Ramsey-approved EveryDollar!

4. Think Outside the Box (Especially The “Gift” Box)

Think back to the best presents you’ve ever received. Were they always the most expensive? Chances are your favorite gifts were more about the thought and much less about the cost. 

So instead of racking up debt buying your family and friends things they may or may not want, why not get creative and think outside the box?

You could bake something with lots of love, organize a game night, create a DIY photo frame, or my personal favorite: Offer acts of service as a gift – Run errands, clean houses, cook meals, wash cars, force me to relax, etc, etc.

5. Exercise The Power of “No”

For my money, there’s no better gift you can give yourself than saying “no.” Say no to the things you don’t want to do, say no to the things you simply can’t do.

This is about making yourself a priority. That means declining activities and responsibilities that only add more stress. Remember: This time of year can be about enjoyment and connection, so long as you’re not running yourself ragged trying to be a holiday superhero.


That’s it! A quick and easy hit list of suggestions to make your holiday season more manageable and more fun!

Whatever you do (or don’t do) between now and the new year, just remember that for all that is wrong in the world, if you know where to look, you’ll find that, in fact, there’s much more that is right.

And that’s something to celebrate.

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