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Dealing with stress over the holidays

The holiday period is one of the most stressful times of year. Trying to fit in seeing old friends, visiting family, and traditional celebrations is a lot to juggle, with everyone wanting to have fun and make memories.

Often organising all this falls on just one person, and if you’ve clicked on this article, it’s probably you. We’ve put together some tips on how to deal with stress over the holidays.

Why are the holidays so stressful?


One of the main reasons we find the holidays so stressful is because of all the expectations that come with them. Whether our own or someone else’s, expectations carry weight, and can dictate what we do, and how we do it.

It’s important to remember that we don’t have to live up to these expectations, and that an honest conversation with family or whoever else can help get everyone on the same page about what will or won’t be happening this year.

Family and friends

Another reason why the holidays can be stressful is that for much of the time we’re trying to plan around other people, whether it’s dinners, parties, or journeys.

We often feel like we can’t get started until everyone is there, but try to relax and remember that people will arrive when they arrive, that you can’t control the traffic, and that this is your time to enjoy too.

They only come once a year

Part of why holidays are so stressful is because they only come once a year, so there’s immediately more pressure for them to be perfect. We only get one chance to make them special, and if we don’t, we remember it all year.

Family dinners or get-togethers with friends are far more common than big holiday celebrations, so they aren’t as stressful, even though they might be exactly the same amount of work.

Although it can be difficult, try to think of you big holiday celebration as just another day, where things are allowed to go wrong or not be perfect. Aiming for perfection is never a good idea, but especially not when you’re trying to please so many people.

Ways to deal with stress over the holidays

Set boundaries

As with anything, it’s a good idea to have some boundaries in place so you don’t overstretch yourself.

If there’s something you don’t have the bandwidth to organise, it’s ok to say so. Other people can take on some of the responsibilities of the holidays.

If there’s something you don’t want to do, don’t do it. Communicate your boundaries calmly and clearly, and don’t let people guilt you into doing more than you’re comfortable with.

Ask for help

When tasked with big holiday plans, we can sometimes feel like we have to do it all on our own, but we don’t, we can ask for help.

Whether it’s cooking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping presents, picking up relatives, or even walking the dog, don’t be afraid to of asking for help when you need it.

It might help to list out all the tasks that need to be done, and then get everyone to pitch in and take responsibility for some.

Whether you’re celebrating with family, friends, or anyone else, no one should expect you to do it all on your own.


Perhaps our most important tip on this list: remember to take some time for yourself and relax! The holidays are just that, a time to switch off, relax, and enjoy yourself.

Don’t spend the entire time stressed, trying to make sure everyone else has a good time. You deserve that too.

Read our blog on dealing with loneliness over the holidays, or watch this video on stress.

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Posted on: 24th December 2021

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