How Do You Handle the Stress of the Holiday Season?

The holidays may be a joyous time, but they can also exacerbate many stressors that could lead to increased feelings of anxiety for many people just wanting to have some family fun.

Holiday stress statistics show that up to 69 % of people are stressed by the feeling of having a “lack of time”, 69 % are stressed by perceiving a “lack of money”, and 51 % are stressed out about the pressure to give or get gifts.

The American Psychological Association identified the top four main stressors of the holidays:

  • difficult family conversations,
  • the pressure of gift-giving,
  • finances, and
  • managing expectations.

Some tips for the annual family argument

The APA listed one of the top four stressors as “difficult family gatherings.”

As families reunite under one roof, long-held grievances or competing political ideologies can lead to arguments or insults that ruin even the best holiday feast.

To avoid this stress, specialists usually advised that each family can decide how they want to approach delicate topics.

“There are no hard or fast rules about this, some families might decide that the holidays are a time to not talk about challenging things. For others, this may be a perfect time because everybody is all together, so it makes a lot of sense to have effective dialogues.” Dr. Vaile Wright, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and APA’s director of research and special projects.

Dr. Vaile Wright said that if you’re roped into a discussion, you’re eager to avoid it, you should feel able to remove yourself. “Walking away is fine — taking a break — if two people are having a discussion among themselves and you don’t want to be a part of it, remove yourself.”

However, if someone is discussing a topic that you have a moral objection to, according to Dr. Vaile Wright it’s fine to speak up and (delicately) contradict them.

“If you are hearing people saying things that you find morally reprehensible, I think it is our responsibility to speak up and speak up in a way that’s effective,” she said.

But she suggested avoiding accusatory statements or mean-spirited arguing.

“When we communicate how we really feel to somebody and do it in a way that we can feel good about that maintains the relationship, I think we feel better at the end,” she said.

The American Psychological Association was concerned about stress levels during the holidays, so they’ve created their own “Holiday Stress Resource Center” for anyone looking for a little help.

From our own experience, we have seen a lot of people as well struggling between holiday gift preparation, receiving, and accommodating family members or friends, and taking care of the children while school is off! As a result, rather than enjoying the season of fun with family and friends, often people, particularly women, or those who feel some responsibility for the family, have a long list of duties, and stress follows. And you know how stress is harmful to our emotional wellbeing as well as mental and physical wellbeing and health!


Managing the stress of the holiday season

Matt and Kari came to InnerOptimal as they knew this holiday season would be stressful. A young couple, just starting their family life, were already struggling to try to juggle responsibility to both their families. They had to plan their holidays carefully, traveling out of state to meet everyone. It’s not always easy to please everyone, particularly in this difficult time with COVID-19 still in effect!

Once they started our program, they experienced peace and calm even during stressful situations. Recovering the neuroplasticity of their brain, they were able to sleep and rest instead of thinking over and over about what they could have done differently. Eventually, they developed new patterns of thinking and behavior, and holidays became a joyful time with their families.

How do you handle Your holiday stress?

The situational stress of the holiday season is very difficult to handle. Because we work so hard to please, welcome, and enjoy these moments, we look for perfection and the guilt builds up to reach a high-stress level when things go wrong or don’t follow our plans.


We would love to hear from you

  • How do you do when you have to juggle with your kids, parents, and the need to accommodate everyone?
  • How do you make things go smoothly and easier when it comes to preparing family meals?
  • Or you might be single, what do you do to manage the loneliness you might feel in this holiday season?

I am sure some of you have very creative ideas to make holidays enjoyable for yourself and your loved ones.

Please share your comments and/or tips with all of us.

Happy Holidays!!

Your InnerOptimal Team

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