How Do You Cope with Holiday Stress?

holiday lifestyle stress management wellness Dec 22, 2023
Image of Kelley with her son

I'm not going to lie to you... for every year of my life, literally until this holiday season, the holidays have truly overwhelmed me. That doesn't mean there weren't pockets in there that I truly enjoyed, but it does mean that for those two months of the year, my adrenals we're in a state of overload. Not exactly great for my mental state or my physical symptoms.

Most of us know the familiar feeling of pressure to get the right gifts, make the perfect meal, and attend every event we're invited to. I promise you after trying it myself this year, it doesn't have to be that way! With a little intention, you can transform the holidays into a time of joy, gratitude, and connection rather than a too much stress, burnout, and exhaustion.

  1. PLAN AHEAD & SET AN INTENTION: Feeling overwhelmed by the holidays often stems from having too much to do and not enough money or time. You absolutely can prevent these feelings by taking time now to review your finances and create a realistic budget for the holidays. Find some alternatives to traditional gifts, like making something rather than buying something. I always try to create an experience for Chad rather than buying some big extravagant gift. You can really approach your time in the same way. Pull out a calendar and schedule events that are non-negotiable, with people who you REALLY want to be with. Be realistic with what you can attend and accomplish. For me, it's one event per weekend in the month of December. Maybe that's something for the kids, or maybe it's an evening holiday adult celebration. But I don't book something both days because I know I'll be exhausted come Sunday. Evaluate what truly matters and what can go by the wayside. Discerning the vital tasks from the trivial ones helps you determine where your energy will be most effective.

  2. ASK FOR HELP: Remember that you don't have to do it all. all by yourself. Identify which things you can delegate and to whom. More than likely, the people in your life would be happy to support you. You just have to ask (nicely). This year, I asked my husband to do all the shopping for his side of the family. I asked my mom to help me with wrapping because she's an expert. Asking for help can also mean seeking out community if you're in need of connection. Even when it feels hard to reach out, remember that others are there to support you.

  3. BUILD A RITUAL: Personally, I thrive during times of routine when I can go about my day knowing that it will be similar to the day before and the days to come. I have always been a creature of habit, so when the holidays have thrown off my groove in the past, I struggled to find that sense of calm I so desperately need. The key to keeping a routine during the holidays is building in smaller blocks of rituals that will allow you to better handle an unpredictable schedule. When things are crazy at work or home, which absolutely happens during the holidays, routines provides a sense of much-needed control and regularity. You can create a powerful morning or bedtime routine to inject a feeling of mastery into an otherwise out of control schedule.

  4. WATCH YOUR WORDS: Whenever I’m stressed, it’s a natural inclination for me to use negative language to describe the things that are going on in my life. For instance, a dinner recipe that turns out bad becomes a complete failure. That kind of self talk really brings me back to my perfectionism I've spent so many years trying to heal. Trying to mindfully use positive language can often reduce your stress and help you face the the holidays with more confidence. During this time, be mindful not to fall into cognitive thought-traps of using extreme language like ‘Everything always goes wrong’ or ‘This will never work out,’”. That all or nothing thinking is exactly what fuels perfectionism. These only serve to reinforce unproductive feelings and thoughts that are not in your best self-interest.

  5. CREATE TIME FOR YOU: If there’s an empty space on my calendar and someone asks me to attend yet another event, in the past I would just have penciled it in simply because I didn't have anything else going on. But what I want you to know is that this is a recipe for disaster during the holidays when most people's schedule can easily become far more than we can emotionally and physically handle. Taking the time to schedule in meditation or a favorite activity like hiking on an empty day before someone asks to fill that time slot reminds you that your self-care is a priority too. You have to take personal responsibility, planning for your needs, and scheduling times for self-care to show strong emotional intelligence, which can help get you through busy seasons in life without crashing and burning. Making time for yourself while there is a mile long to do list and plenty of social demands is what will help keep your adrenals in check.

Remember, the whole point of the holidays is so that you can be with loved ones and experience gratitude for your many blessings. So remember, proactively managing the holiday stress is what allows you to be fully present and enjoy this special time of year. For more on stress management and lowering your cortisol levels, you can head to our ADRENALS mini course to finally understand and implement all of the tools from diet, and lifestyle to movement and supplements to help support your stress hormones.