Needing some tips for a stress free Christmas? It’s that time of year when life seems to accelerate and you may start to feel like you are lost in the frenzy. Does having a stress-free holiday season mean scaling down on fun? Not necessarily. But it does involve being thoughtful about your priorities in life.
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If you unpack what makes this time of year more stressful for you than not, you can begin to manage things differently. Imagine what really embracing this time of year will look like when it looks less stressful…what can you do to get there?
How to Have a Stress Free Christmas
For most of us, we’ll be able to identify some of the same stressors.
Stress about gift-giving
I used to be a last minute Christmas shopper. There is nothing wrong with being a last-minute Christmas shopper but life became substantially more fun and less stressful once I began planning out gifts months in advance.
I found myself spending more money and not having enough time to plan out some of my favorite kinds of gifts: homemade gifts. I also may not have given much thought to what would be a really special gift for someone. Ever felt desperation at the store and then you ended up spending a ton out of the hope that your recipient would be happy?
Then there were the well-intentioned people who gave me really nice gifts as a surprise and it was too late to get them something. Oops.
What about about the whole issue with people who you can’t make happy with gift-giving?
Stress about relationship status
Or what about sending Christmas cards to people you haven’t spoken to or heard from in a few years?
These are just a few scenarios I encountered that made my brain spin way more than I wanted it to. I lost precious energy in being perpetually confused at how to handle these situations and didn’t even realize I was so drained.
When you are already tired all of the time, trust me, you don’t need to be wasting ANY of your precious time or energy trying to solve all of your unresolved relationship problems right before Christmas.
Just like addressing my last-minute Christmas shopping fails, I had to address several other areas as well to begin to take the season of giving more in stride.
Let’s talk more about this…
Identify Your Stressors
Everyone could have some of the same stressors which may eliminate your ability to have stress free Christmas, but the intensity inn each area may vary. Some of the stressful areas may be unexpected and immediate. Some will certainly provoke more stress than another and it might not be possible to eliminate stress for a stress free Christmas season this year. Trust yourself to give yourself the grace you need if you are in a time of grieving.
Here is a non-official list of possible stressors you might be handling right now (or not handling if you haven’t addressed them head-on):
- health flare-ups
- relationship status
- child loss
- recent breakup
- loss of a loved one
- gray area relationships
- unaddressed feelings
- overly emotional expectations or reactions
- financial setbacks and stress
- unexpected chaos from sicknesses or injury
- job loss
- family issues
- ongoing lack of respect or busted boundaries
- forgetting to have boundaries
- generalized fear or anxiety
- ongoing mental health challenges
- bad weather
- other relationship rifts
It’s so important to at least address what is your biggest source of stress during this Christmas season. A stress free Christmas is more possible than you can possibly imagine. It’s not a bad idea to write out a list of everything on your mind that you don’t feel right about. What do you generally complain about to others the most this time of year? Start there.
For me, I would complain about the same thing every year for years and finally recognize that I was just tired of this hanging over my head. I had to change something.
Sometimes it’s hard to handle everything especially if you have a lot going on. Maybe having a acceptable time means focusing on what you have to do and saying no to anything non-essential.
Address Your Stressors with Problem-Solving
Once you identify what’s the monkey on your back, you can begin to problem-solve. This is where so many of us, myself included, can run into blind spots. But if you don’t, you can forget about having a stress free Christmas.
We have the same issue every year for years and just accept feeling powerless about it. But the problem never really goes away, we simply carry it with us unresolved.
Here’s a suggestion for how to problem-solve through your holiday stressors:
- Pick one of your stressors and NAME IT.
- Write about the real problem in depth.
- List out the problems you could address.
- BRAINSTORM 3-5 ways you could see change. Could you react differently? Act differently? Not be in the situation? Plan ahead differently? Enlist the help of someone and get their feedback? Eliminate the situation? Just write down all of the ways you could think of for things to be better.
- PICK the path that seems the most logical and makes sense to your gut, too.
- DECIDE on what is the best solution in the long-run.
Focus on Your Priorities
Make sure to use your imagination about what a better situation looks like. How do you do that? By checking in with yourself regularly and working on “problems” over a span of time rather than overloading your system with feeling all your stress ALL AT ONCE.
Here are some super simple ways to begin to focus on living YOUR life as opposed to some Keeping Up with the Jones’ scenario or getting bogged down into a stress spiral.
One of the best reasons to journal frequently is to gather a sense of your wiring. What do I mean by that? How do you think regularly and what are you thinking about will show you who you are.
Are you stuck on something that you cannot ever change? Are you stuck on something you can actually do something about?
The beauty of journaling is it’s like your brain on paper. Writing helps your brain process information and think further than you’ve thought before.
Give journaling a shot about each area that is frustrating. Focus on what steps you can take to alleviate the situation. Let you brain mull over this for a few months and let it come up with a solution. Ask yourself each night to think of ways that this problem can be alleviated in the most peaceful and productive way. Your mind will work on this problem for you while you sleep.
The Five-Minute Journal helps you keep focused on your priorities and lead you towards prioritizing based upon your values. When you’re ready to deal with your issues head on, you can begin to enjoy a stress free Christmas.
Use it to help you address
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Are you trying to handle all of your problems on your own? Maybe enlist the help of others as you focus on a stress free Christmas. This could be from reading books about the lives of others, reading your Bible for inspiration in the stories, asking a trusted friend how they would handle this situation or asking a trusted advisor to hold you accountable for acting in a new more productive way that serves your interests just a little bit more than usual.
Is that selfish? To do what serves your interest just a little bit more than usual? Chances are, if you are reading this, you are more likely to put others’ first because you are empathetic and may be creating stress for yourself instead.
God loves a cheerful giver, but we aren’t asked to be a giver in every situation. We can use our logic to see what seems reasonable.
Sometimes these patterns are hard to see in ourselves, so getting feedback can help give us the ah-ha moment.
Making a Christmas to Remember
What is my favorite way to make a Christmas to remember?
I start with making a little list of my favorite things about the season and plan that out as best as possible. Each year is a little bit different.
I try and start Christmas gift shopping well ahead of time so if those homemade gift ideas come, I’ll have plenty of time to work on them.
I focus on the meaning of the season and what that means to me.
I think, “in an ideal world, things would be like…X” and see if that ideal is possible.
Otherwise, I just let it roll. I don’t fret as much and just let things happen more.
I can’t control others. I can try and treat people with civility and politeness and warmth. I can let it go when people reveal who they are and move on more gracefully.
I can enjoy the present moment and experience the beautiful magic of the purpose of Christmas.
Your Christmas to Remember
Some questions to spur your inspiration:
- Are there activities you love to do? Can you do MORE of them this year?
- Are there foods that you like to make that you want to make MORE of? Can you share them with your favorite people?
- What do you want to FEEL this season? How can you get to that feeling more?
- What does your self-care look like this time of year?
- Which parties do you actually want to attend versus which feel obligatory and draining?
- When was the last time you had a stress free Christmas, and what made it so?
- WHO is this season about? How can you focus more on that Person?
I hope you take the reins in your hands and enjoy this holiday season. At the very least, I hope you feel resigned contentment at some point. If you’ve been stuck in dealing with some aspect of stress at this time over the years I hope you are able to find some relief in trying to do things differently. Try to have a stress free Christmas and see how good it feels!