6 Ways to Minimize Stress + Anxiety Around the Holidays

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by Tiffany Walking Eagle | 5-minute read

The holidays are supposed to be a time of celebration and good cheer, but reality is, the holiday season often ends up being a stressful time. As soon as Thanksgiving passes and black Friday rolls around, we all start feeling the pressure. Time to decorate, get the tree up, shop till we drop, and stretch our budgets as far as they’ll go!

Let’s try to make this holiday season just a little bit more peaceful by letting go of the stresses we place on ourselves and focusing on what the holiday season is really about: gratitude and togetherness.

1. Get creative with gifts and decor.

Are you stressed about dropping a boatload of cash on gifts this year? I feel ya, but there are ways to get creative with your gift-giving and avoid breaking the bank. If you’re even a little bit crafty, I recommend hitting up Pinterest and searching “DIY gift ideas” or “cheap handmade gifts” etc. and seeing what comes up. Whether it’s a candle, a hand-painted sign, or even something as simple as a homemade body scrub, handmade gifts are both special and affordable.

As for decor, Pinterest has tons of DIY and dollar-store ideas for that too. If you’re not one bit crafty or don’t have the time, another way to save on Christmas decor is to shop for it after the holiday season when it’s extremely discounted. That advice won’t help you this year, but you’ll be thanking yourself next year!

2. Don’t feel obligated to spend money.

Honestly, if you can’t afford to give gifts this year, don’t feel guilty. Christmas isn’t about spending money on each other; it’s about spending quality time together.

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My husband and I had a rough year financially last year, and frankly, we’re trying to pay down some debt and get our finances in order. If you’re in a similar situation, don’t feel pressured to buy everyone else fancy gifts just because others can afford it. Everyone is at different places in life, and friends and family will be understanding.

Here’s a few creative, low-cost gift ideas:

  • personalized letters for friends + family members telling them why they’re special to you

  • homemade body scrubs scented with essential oils (piney, woodsy scents for the guys and floral, sweet scents for the ladies or according to preference)

  • printed photos of fond memories with a friend/family member with letters recounting the memories

  • coupon books or date night/friend date in a jar (coupon/slip of paper/popsicle stick with ideas like picnics, movie nights, coffee dates, girls night, etc.)

    Get creative, and seriously, hit up Pinterest for inspiration!

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

If you’re having family over or hosting holiday parties this year, don’t take on more than you can handle. Don’t be afraid to ask people to bring a side or dessert or beverage along with them to take some of the load off of you. While you may feel it’s polite to just say just bring yourself! you may wind up rushed and overworked.

If you do prefer to provide everything, recruit a close friend or family member to help with the cleaning and prep. No need to add the stress of doing everything yourself on top of all the other craziness that accompanies the holidays.

4. Realize the holidays aren’t about gifts.

I remember as a kid getting so excited about Christmas. My little sister and I would wake up at a ridiculously early hour and jump on my parents’ bed to wake them (pretty sure a lot of you can relate!). I remember rushing through breakfast (we had to eat before presents, no negotiating) so we could get to opening gifts. But once all the presents were opened and ribbons and wrapping paper was scattered about the floor, I also vividly remember an empty feeling. I’d think, is that it? Even if I’d gotten tons of gifts I wanted, it never felt like enough. You know the feeling?

You know why? Because as humans, we’re never satisfied; we always want more, no matter how much we already have. So remember this: gifts come and go. They wear down, don’t get used, get returned, or maybe they do hold incredible meaning to the receiver; even still, the things that truly last are memories of time spent with loved ones, partaking in delicious food and drink, and just being together. So next time you’re feeling the pressure to get loads of incredible gifts for everyone, remember that it’s not what truly matters.

5. Plan ahead, and don’t leave everything till the last minute.

As a chronic procrastinator who loves to leave things to the very last minute, I’m talking to myself here too. While there are those of us who think we thrive under the chaos of throwing things together last minute, reality is, we could all benefits from at least a little planning.

Even the little things that seem like they won’t take that long add up!

Here’s a few simple ways to plan + ideas of things you could start getting out of the way a few weeks or a month-ish ahead of time:

  • Make lists. Recipe ideas, grocery lists, people you need to buy gifts for (if you’re doing gifts), and gift ideas

  • Give yourself at least some loose deadlines of when you need to get those things done, and spread them out!

  • Request friends’/family’s help a little bit ahead of time so they can plan

  • Start cleaning your home a week or so before get-togethers so you’re not furiously cleaning the night/morning before (we’ve all been there!)

  • Go with at least a few simple recipe ideas so you’re not stuck making a whole bunch of complicated gourmet food

6. Release high expectations.

Let go of those people-pleasing tendencies and realize you might forget things, not be able to get everything on your list done, or not be able to afford all the gifts you’d like to buy. Or, you might not receive all the gifts you wanted! Holding onto exceedingly high expectations for yourself or others will inevitably lead to letdown.

Putting those expectations on yourself will cause you unnecessary stress, and putting your high expectations on others will put pressure and strain on them! That’s not what the holidays are about! If you tend to have high expectations and often find yourself disappointed, it might be time to refocus your perspective on what;s truly important.

Have any other stress-relieving ideas you’d like to share? Leave them in the comments! Merry Christmas everyone, and happy holidays to all! <3

Tiffany Walking EagleComment