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10 Don'ts For Less Holiday Pressure

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J.Adderton has 27 years experience as a BSN, MSN .

7 Followers; 105 Articles; 31,639 Profile Views; 364 Posts

Are You Trying To Do Too Much?

Do you start feeling the pressures that come with the holiday season in early October? Are you still enjoying pumpkin spice lattes when Christmas displays start to go up? If you can relate to these questions, read on to learn how you can refocus and get back to what is most important this season.

10 Don'ts For Less Holiday Pressure

The pressure of the holiday season seems to begin building earlier each year.  From holiday anticipation to New Year dread, a full range of emotions hits us before the first leaves fall.  We barely make it through the marketing bombardment of all things pumpkin spice when the holiday displays go up in stores.  Just think a minute about all the messages telling you how the holidays “should be”.  A few that come immediately to my mind is commercials, social media, movies, family and long-standing traditions.

It is possible to relieve the pressure and frustration of the holiday season.  Here are 10 things to consider not doing this season to keep the focus on what is most important to you.

Don’t Suffer From FOMO

I have a serious fear of missing out (FOMO) on certain holiday activities.  For example, I don’t really want to go shopping on Black Friday.  But, a little voice inside my head tells me if I don’t go- I will be missing out on something I am “supposed” to do as part of the holiday “experience”.

Escape the trap of FOMO by letting yourself off the hook.  You may not have to decorate the perfect tree, bake cookies for your co-workers, host the neighborhood party and send 50 Christmas cards to your closest friends and family. This holiday season try letting go of what you feel you are supposed to do with a revised list of what you truly find meaningful.

Don’t Stress Over the Perfect Gift

Stores would love for you to believe the perfect gift can be found on their expensive shelves.  But thoughtful gifts usually carry more meaning than short-lived fads that result in credit bills to start the new year.  Set a budget that doesn’t stretch your resources and stick to it.

Try these alternatives

  • Donate to a charity in honor of someone
  • Give homemade gifts 
  • Share a memory by giving a photo
  • Give the gift of your time

Don’t Eat Every Treat

It’s really hard to pass on those sweets, appetizers and goodies that are a part of our holiday celebrations.  But, with a little willpower, you can avoid making the annual “lose the holiday weight” resolution on New Year’s Day.  Just use moderation and you can still enjoy all the delicious seasonal eats.

Don’t Forget Your Rose-Colored Glasses

In movies, families often reconcile, undo wrongs and heal old wounds around the Christmas table.  Unfortunately, it is not this easy in the real world.  We often set our expectations too high for family and friends to meet.  Try setting aside grievances during the holidays and address when the timing is more appropriate.  Keep in mind that others may be caught in the stress of the season too.  Try cutting them a little slack when they do (and they will) fall short of your high expectations.

Don’t Drink Too Much

There are several reasons why we may drink more alcohol during the holidays

  • Social gatherings and parties
  • Depression and/or loneliness
  • Increased stress levels

Merrymaking can easily lead to regretting what you did at last night’s work party. Try keeping a “big picture” of your true alcohol intake to help you keep it in moderation.  Overindulgence can lead to increased risk-taking behaviors and worsened depression.

Don’t Forget Exercise

Exercise is a great way to tackle holiday stress by improving mood and boosting energy levels.  Research also shows regular exercise can reduce anger, tension and fatigue.  

Don’t Try to be Perfect

Remember, perfect holidays do not exist.  Even when you pour all your time, energy and money into your holiday preparations, everything will not go as expected.   Be realistic and expect hiccups in even the best laid plans.

Don’t Live Up to the Hype

Do you live in a neighborhood where every house goes all out in decorating?  If so, you may be feeling the stress of keeping up with the outdoor wreaths, lights and inflatables displayed by your neighbors.  Before you spend the time and money on elaborate outdoor decorations, ask yourself “is this important to me?”.  If the answer is no, let it go.

Don’t Forget What is Most Important

Try making a list of the people and traditions that are most important to your holiday celebration.  This will help you stay focused on what matters most.

Don’t Forget to Ask for Help

This may be one of the hardest things to do.  We don’t want to put anyone out during this busy time, even when we become overwhelmed.  Likely, there are people in your life who want to help and are ready.  They are likely just waiting for you to take the step to let them know what you need.  If your depression or stress begins to impact your daily life, reach out for professional help.

Let us hear from you.  What have you found helpful in reducing holiday pressure?

For more tips, check out this resourceful handout.

Managing Holiday Stress Handout


J. Adderton MSN has over 20 years’ experience in clinical leadership, staff development, project management and nursing education.

7 Followers; 105 Articles; 31,639 Profile Views; 364 Posts

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