5 Tips for Reducing Holiday Stress

by Kassandra Lamb

ornaments on a tree

photo by Kris de Curtis CC-BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

This is a joyous time of year, but it is also the most stressful time of year for many of us. Especially for those who are trying to make Christmas happen for their families.

Here are a few helpful hints on how to keep the stress manageable and the joy optimal.

1.  Write It Down.

Santa isn’t the only one who should be making a list and checking twice.

This is actually 3 tips in one. First, making a list of everything that needs to be done will keep you from forgetting something that might then become a last-minute crisis/super stressor.

Second, you get the list out of your head and onto paper so you don’t have to stress yourself with trying to remember everything.

And third, it is very satisfying to physically scratch things off a list. Sometimes I put things on there that I’ve already done, so I can immediately scratch them off again. 😀

2. Keep It Simple.

Are there things you do for Christmas that nobody really cares about, maybe not even you?

A few years ago, during a stressful time for my family, we opted for a cold buffet instead of a big Christmas dinner. I was amazed at how little I missed the fancy meal (and all the prep, not at all).

We made the cold buffet a new tradition. We still have special things to eat (my DIL makes awesome cranberry chicken salad), but it can all be prepared a day or two in advance. Christmas Day, we open presents and enjoy each others’ company and spend very little time in the kitchen.

3. Pace Yourself.

This is a marathon, not a sprint. If you try to do too much in one day you will wear yourself out, and be tired and grouchy the next day.

If you want to be super-organized, you could mark the day you plan to do certain things on your list. Then on any given day, you are only stressing about that day’s chores.

hand and book

Take a break. Read a book! 🙂 (photo by David, CC-BY-SA 2.0 Wikimedia)

Also this time of year, getting too fatigued can lead to illness, with all the nasty flu and cold viruses floating around.

Getting sick is definitely not going to help! Which brings us to…

4. Take Care of Yourself.

Schedule proper rest, eating and some exercise into your days.

My mother used to wear herself down to the nub by Christmas Eve. My brother and I would hide in our rooms as much as possible. She was so exhausted and cranky, if we landed on her radar, who knew what would happen?

By the next day, she was much better and we always had a great Christmas, but much of what she had done to prepare for it wasn’t really what made it special for us.

The specialness of Christmas came from having a whole day of relaxation and freedom to play and undivided attention from the adults in the family. Everybody was in a great mood and we had a blast.

child with toys

You can’t see my face but I’m grinning.

Oh, and there were new toys, of course.

5. There Is No Report Card!

Christmas should not be a contest or a performance for which we receive a grade. If you have someone in your life who tends to be that judgmental, you have my permission to uninvite them for Christmas.

If that’s not an option, then practice some lines you can fire back if they comment or even just glare at you judgmentally.

Something like “My house may not be perfect but my kids are happy.”

Or maybe “What would Jesus do?” to remind them that judging is definitely not in the spirit of the season.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Our blog will be on hiatus until January 3rd, at which point we have a BIG surprise for you. Stay tuned for an awesome 2017 giveaway!!

Merry Christmas

image by Ac1983fan CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological suspense series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

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  • Reply
    shannon esposito
    December 13, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Such good advice (and great timing!) I’ve always stressed myself out to the point of illness around holidays, but I just can’t do it this year. I’m doing all my shopping on Amazon, which takes a load of pressure off. And trying to keep up self-care and stress-,management…which usually gets kicked to the curb during the holidays. It’s just not worth it. I don’t want to be cranky, stressed-out mom. 🙂

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      December 13, 2016 at 12:45 pm

      Good for you! I can tell you, as a kid, I could’ve done with fewer decorations and Christmas cookies and my mother in a better mood. 🙂

  • Reply
    K.B. Owen
    December 13, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    These make a lot of sense! It’s a juggle, for sure, especially on top of work. And the kids are finishing tests and assignments, and their school stress gets me anxious for them, and so on….

    I caught myself just after Thanksgiving getting super-stressed as preparations really got going, and it took me a bit of reflection to figure out why. This will be our first Christmas without my dad, and the first in several years where my mom will be spending it here with us rather than us going there (because my dad’s health had been failing these past few years). I really wanted to make it special for her, have all her favorite things, decorate the house just so. But I see that isn’t realistic, and certainly not worth it if I’m making myself crazy. Maybe I was trying to keep at arm’s length the reality that there are just going to be some aspects to the holiday that will make us both a bit teary from time to time. But that’s okay. We have each other.

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      December 13, 2016 at 9:43 pm

      Aww, Kathy, I know this holiday is going to be a bit rough for you all. Yes, you have each other, and maybe the change of scenery will help your mom. And she can relax and not have to play hostess.

      But when the dynamics of the family change that drastically, it takes some adjusting. When my mom died, I realized just how much of our holiday revolved around her. It really put a damper on things for a couple of years.


      • Reply
        K.B. Owen
        December 13, 2016 at 9:54 pm

        Thanks, Kass! Hugs back.

  • Reply
    Cindy Hamilton
    December 13, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    Very good advice! I have finally come to the conclusion that I will never have a Walton’s Christmas with a house full of people. Growing up, we would go to my paternal grandparents in Baltimore for a big family dinner on Thanksgiving and again between Christmas and New Year’s. That made the holidays for me. But now it will be just the the three of us. I’ll do a small dinner, a lot that I can prepare ahead. Wishing everyone a relaxing Christmas!

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      December 14, 2016 at 2:50 am

      Same to you, Cindy! Somehow Christmas has shrunk through the years. We used to go to my extended family party. Everybody got a present (drawn by lot). I didn’t value that like I should have.

  • Reply
    Vinnie Hansen
    December 14, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    A perfect post, Kassandra. I’m a big fan of #1–very satisfying to scratch stuff off that list. 🙂 What I have to work on is number five–the report card thingy. My husband and I host a holiday party each year and we can get into arguments about stuff like background music or types of cheese. It’s ridiculous. Seriously none of those things matter. The judgmental people Danny and I need to uninvite are unfortunately ourselves.

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