Holiday Stress and Anxiety

Helpful Tips For Handling Holiday Stress and Anxiety

The holidays are an amazing time of year. It’s the time to get together with loved ones, celebrate, and enjoy festivities with one another. Although the holiday season can be a wonderful time of year, it can also bring a lot of holiday stress and anxiety to some people. 

There are various reasons many people feel holiday stress and anxiety at the end of the year. The stress and anxiety of holiday travels, managing increasing demands with work and family obligations, and trying to find the perfect gift for loved ones are some of the many reasons why people feel more stress than joy around this time of year.

In this blog post, I’ll go over some of the causes of holiday stress and anxiety and what you can do to help alleviate them. Don’t let negative feelings of holiday stress and anxiety bring you down and prevent you from enjoying the holidays with your loved ones. Keep reading for helpful tips to manage any overwhelming thoughts and feelings that may come up. 

Tis the season for joy so let us be joyous as we get together with loved ones and let’s minimize our stress and worries. 

Sources of Holiday Stress 

  • Financial Concerns 
  • Difficult Family Dynamics During Gatherings 
  • Loss Of A Loved One
  • Not Enough Time 
  • Becoming Overwhelmed With An Increasing To-Do List
  • Holiday Travels 
  • The Need For Everything To Be Perfect

1. Financial Concerns 

With the cost of holiday decorations, holiday travels, gift-giving, and celebrations, finances certainly can add up. And with inflation costs, Americans are spending like crazy during the holidays. To deal with any financial concerns that you may have, plan and budget ahead. 

If you can, start putting aside money for the holidays months in advance so that you have a “holiday reserve” you can use for spending around the holidays. When you put aside money in advance, you’re budgeting for it almost like a vacation. You don’t need to dip into fixed expenses or go into debt to pay for things during the holidays. 

Another tip for dealing with any financial concerns during the holidays is to make a budget and stick to it. It may be tempting to go over but you really need to stick to your budget so that you’re not overcharging and going into debt. Remember, it’s more important to make sure your gas and water bills are paid on time than to buy that extra gift. Don’t go six months into debt just to buy a gift that may be set aside in a few months. 

You may also want to delete any email subscriptions you have to any shopping network. Those advertising emails are tempting to lure you in with the goal of getting you to shop, buy, and spend more.

Just remember that it’s the sentiment and thought behind the gift that counts. You don’t need to spend an extravagant amount on holiday gifts if it’s going to break the bank for you. The important thing is the thought behind your gift and making memories with your loved ones.

Tips for managing financial stress during the holidays:

  • Make a budget and stick with it.
  • Remember that it’s the thought that counts.
  • Create family traditions that are not money-centered. 
  • Limit your exposure to advertisements and commercial media. 

2. Difficult Family Dynamics During Gatherings 

Gathering together with family and loved ones can be a fun and joyous time but it can also bring a lot of stress for some people. There are a lot of family dynamics and if you’re staying with family for an extended amount of time for travel or vacation, it can be overwhelming at times. 

During times of holiday stress and frustration dealing with family, try to give each other a little extra grace. As much as I love my own family, they can be a bit much sometimes.

Another tip for dealing with family during get-togethers is to let go of expectations. Sometimes we expect and want our family members to hold up and live up to an ideal image in our mind. When they don’t live up to that expectation or ideal image we have pictured, we are disappointed. Let go of any expectations and just let things be.

Tips for managing difficult family dynamics during gatherings:

  • Give each other grace.
  • Be patient with one another.
  • Let go of expectations.

3. Loss Of A Loved One

This holiday season may be particularly difficult if you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one. This may be your first holiday season without them or the holidays remind you of moments without them. This can be extremely tough but reaching out to a friend or comforting companion during the holidays may help you get through this time. 

You don’t need to go through feelings of loss and grief alone. It is better for your emotional and mental well-being to share your thoughts and feelings with another. 

If you’re unable to put into words how you feel, just ask someone to sit with you. It may be difficult to get all of the words out and to bring up tough emotions but having someone physically there with you can bring some comfort and reduce some pain and anxiety. 

Although your loved one is not with you this holiday season, there are many ways that you can still honor them and celebrate the holidays in their memory.

You can talk about your favorite memories with that person. You can honor that person by doing something that they would have enjoyed. Or you can cook something and make a meal that they would have enjoyed eating. Do something that would have made them happy and proud. I’m sure that wherever they are, they are in a special place and would want you to be happy.

Tips for celebrating the holidays after the loss of a loved one:

  • Honor your feelings, thoughts, and emotions. It’s okay to feel how you are feeling and to acknowledge it.
  • Talk to someone you trust about how you’re feeling.
  • Do something to honor your lost loved one. Watch a movie or cook a special dish that they would have enjoyed eating if they were still here with you.

4. Not Enough Time 

There are a lot of things to do during the holidays. From shopping for gifts, traveling, spending time with friends and family, and decorating our homes, it seems like there’s not enough time to get everything done. 

If only we could get an army of Santa’s elves to help us here too! 

With so much to do in such a limited amount of time, plan ahead. I always encourage a Sunday Reset routine where you preview the week ahead and see what’s on the agenda. You can plan what are the most urgent and non-urgent things that need to get tackled during the week. 

I recommend using a calendar, writing down your to-do list, and time blocking out chunks of time to get the most important things done. Start by completing the most difficult tasks first so that they’re out of the way. Then you can start tackling some of the smaller things on your to-do list.

You will also need to manage your time wisely and don’t waste it doing anything unproductively. As much as I love scrolling through shopping websites online, I’ve had to delete my subscriptions because I was spending too much time “window shopping” online and looking at all of these cute outfits that I knew I wasn’t going to buy. It was just a time waster for me. So if you notice yourself doing that, catch yourself and stop.

Tips for managing stress and anxiety regarding not having enough time:

  • Plan and prepare ahead.
  • Use a calendar.
  • Time blocks your activities.
  • Don’t waste time doing unproductive activities. 

5. Becoming Overwhelmed With An Increasing To-Do List

This point goes in tandem with the one above. There’s a lot to do around the holidays. Some of us may have increasing deadlines, demands, and quotas to meet at work near the end of the year. We have to shop for presents, decorate our homes, and plan annual get-togethers with friends and family. There’s a lot to do and it’s easy to get overwhelmed during the holidays. 

Tips for managing feelings of being overwhelmed may be to write down your to-do list and plan ahead. You can categorize your to-do list by urgent, non-urgent, and least priority. Schedule it into your calendar and block out chunks of time to get things done. 

You can also shop online, have groceries delivered, and have easy ready-to-go dinner meals that are convenient to prepare and cook up on nights when you’re extremely busy.

You can always say no and turn down events if you’re feeling too overwhelmed. Don’t feel bad about saying no to events or turning things down in order to protect and preserve your sanity and mental health. 

Tips for managing a growing to-do list:

  • Delegate tasks to family members. 
  • Outsource or hire someone for help.
  • Shop online and have groceries and gifts delivered to your home.
  • It’s okay to say no and turn things down. 

6. Holiday Traveling

Many of us may have to travel during the holidays to spend time with our loved ones. Whether you driving or flying, always be prepared and give yourself extra time. Expect the best but always be prepared for the worst. 

Unexpected things happen. 

Flights get delayed. Accidents happen. People run late. Traffic gets bigger. 

When traveling, make your packing list ahead of time and try to pack beforehand. If you have toddlers or young kids, I have a downloadable packing list that you can use here. It has all the essential items and space for you to include some of your personal items as well. 

If things don’t go as planned during your holiday travels, remember that there’s only so much that you can control. Let go of any stress you may have over things that you cannot control and worry about the things that you can.

Tips for dealing with holiday stress and anxiety about traveling:

  • Plan and pack ahead of time. 
  • Give yourself extra time when traveling. 
  • Have a backup plan in case things don’t go as planned.

7. The Need For Everything To Be Perfect

As a perfectionist myself, I know that this is something I have trouble with myself. I know you want to have the house perfectly clean, and decorated with all the bells and whistles for an immaculate holiday season and party. However, going above and beyond can be exhausting and cause a lot of unnecessary holiday stress and anxiety. 

Delegate some of the tasks such as cleaning and decorating to other family members who may be able to help. Outsource and hire someone to help with miscellaneous house chores and decorations if you need it. There’s nothing wrong with delegating and it will make others feel good that they’re also contributing to the holiday decorations and celebrations this season.

Remember that your family and friends appreciate the time spent together more than you have the perfect tableware and table liner for your family celebrations. If you don’t have the perfect holiday decorations, that’s okay. Chances are, most people won’t even notice or give it a second thought. Remember that it’s all about the memories made together when you celebrate together more than it is about having the perfect home and table setting. 

You also don’t need to stress out too much about finding the perfect Christmas present. Remember that it’s the thought and intention behind the gift that counts. Your loved ones will love whatever you get them regardless. It’s all about the memories that you create together during the holidays. 

Remember that the holidays are about spending time with loved ones and creating special memories with one another. Don’t get too caught up in trying to find the perfect present, the perfect gift wrap, and the perfect holiday decorations. At the end of the day, people will always remember how you made them feel and the special memories you created together.


The holidays are meant to be a joyous time full of fun, celebrations, and creating fun memories together. Don’t let holiday stress and anxiety put a damper on your spirit and prevent you from enjoying the true meaning of the holidays.

Let me know in the comments below if you found this post helpful and what other things you like to do to help reduce any holiday stress and anxiety. Please like, comment, and share this post if you found it helpful. Thank you and happy holidays!

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