How to Survive the Stress of Winter Holiday Season

3 min
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At this time of year, we’re often sold a picture-perfect season of festive frivolity, cheer, and goodwill – but the winter holidays can come with a heavy side-helping of pressure. There are gifts to buy and feasts to prepare, social gatherings to attend, and cards to send – not to mention the over-excited, over-stimulated kids and a mountain of requests flooding in from school, college, or the office. Because of course, work is absolutely frantic as everyone prepares to take a few days off. All of this can make what should be a period of rest and rejuvenation feel incredibly overwhelming instead. So how can we avoid getting our tinsel in a twist with the stress of it all? Here are some tips for staying grounded over the festive season.

Prioritize the people that mean the most

Be mindful of who you schedule time with over the holiday season. If you’ve been flooded with invites because you are super popular, that’s wonderful – but you aren’t obliged to see everyone in your contacts list just because they asked you to. This also goes for the amount of time you’re able to give each person – if a quick visit is all you’re able to do, then don’t be afraid to set some healthy boundaries around your time and schedule, including your need to rest. Who is it that really fills your cup? Who deserves your time and attention in a world of distraction and decision? How much are you actually able to give? It might be your kids or the friends that make up your chosen family. It might be me, myself and I – in which case, gift yourself some alone time.

Say “no” to something

Similarly, we can’t fulfill every request, and we can’t give from an empty cup. What’s one thing you could say “no” to this year – where doing so would make you feel relieved and even a little rebellious? Do that! And trust that someone else will love the opportunity to do it instead, or that some other magic will make itself known in the empty space.

Enlist some help

A problem shared is a problem halved – especially when it comes to your time and energy. Whether it’s cooking, wrapping, decorating, delivering, or anything you feel burdened by over the holidays, ask for some help from the people that will enjoy the fruits of your labor. These traditions are designed to be tackled together, and you might even find the bonding opportunity even more fun and fruitful than the celebrations themselves.

Cut some corners

Question your motives around some of your holiday obligations, and see if they are built on people-pleasing tendencies. If so, you might want to nip that in the bud and instead, experiment with ways to honor the people you love while honoring yourself first. If you’re the kind of person who feels pressured to find everyone the perfect gift, why not get them all vouchers instead? If it takes you a whole day to write and send your holiday cards, try an email blast that updates your ever-growing list of loved ones and acquaintances with your news – and be done within the hour.

Cap your spending

One of the biggest holiday stressors is the amount of money spent on gifts and gatherings, so give yourself a budget – as well as the permission to stick to it, guilt-free. It really is the thought that counts when it comes to gifts – not volume or monetary value. Socks will keep your loved ones warmer than silver, and anyone who cares about you wouldn’t want you bankrupting yourself to please them. Work out what you’re able to spend this year and allocate a certain amount to each person on your holiday list. This includes yourself: it’s important to treat yourself, but make sure that you’re doing so as a healthy reward, rather than a stress-spending habit or coping mechanism for some other issue. Implementing these financial boundaries can be just as important as honoring your emotional limits over the festive season.

Give yourself a time-out

Remember that the greatest holiday present is your presence – both for yourself and the people who love you. But your ability to be present in the moment requires a relaxed nervous system, which can take some mindfulness to achieve. So whether you take half an hour to sit with a cup of tea, or a whole day at the spa, or just five minutes to listen to a guided meditation (if you need a little help getting started, we have an entire library of meditation options for you to choose from on Infijoy!), build in time to get some rest where you can. And remember that you have nothing to prove this holiday season – you are loved and appreciated, and the line is yours to draw where and as you need it.


All of the content on our website is thoroughly researched to ensure that the information shared is evidence-based. For more information, please visit the academic journals that influenced this article: Holiday Stress; The “Merry Christmas Coronary” And “Happy New Year Heart Attack” Phenomenon; The Impact Of Job Demands And Workload On Stress And Fatigue; Financial Stress Of The Holidays Cause Many To Rethink Traditions; Why We Stress-Spend During The Holidays — And How To Stop.

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