Conquer Holiday Stress: Critical Questions to Help You Find Calm

by | Updated: October 13th, 2020 | Read time: 3 minutes

While the holidays are supposed to be a festive and fun time, more often than not, they become a number of weeks of feeling overextended — in time, energy, and money. Your spending is like a runaway train as you rush from one store to the next to find the perfect present. And all of the extra holiday gatherings, entertaining, shopping and gift wrapping can quickly overwhelm. Exhaustion, stress and sacrificing self-care are all too common.

During the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, things have a way of spinning out of control. You have to get through the normal day-to-day routine, and on top of that, there are so many holiday-specific things to do.

Woman Battling Holiday Stress from Online Shopping and Gift Wrapping |

Critical questions to find more balance during December

In order to better manage your time, energy and money throughout the holiday season (and beyond), consider these questions:

  • What is important to me?
  • What do I want to do? What do I have to do? What should I do? What can I NOT do?
  • What are my limits, and how will I know when I have gone too far?
  • Will this nourish me or deplete me? (e.g., Do I enjoy spending time with these people?)
  • What did I do today to replenish, to make me feel good?
  • How much did I push myself yesterday/today, and how much downtime do I have in my schedule tomorrow?
  • How can I do this more efficiently? (e.g., What can I do online? What can I buy instead of make?)
  • What is it about saying no that is making me uncomfortable?
  • What will I do for myself to recharge when I find myself at my limit?
  • What do the holidays mean to me, and what can I do to come back to what it’s really about?

Set boundaries and create more space

You’re stressed because you are trying to do too much! You cannot do it all. You’ll have to make some hard decisions regarding what to do and what not to do. What is most urgent, and what is most important? What’s on your to-do list that you really don’t have to do?

For every day, set up chunks of time that give you space – breathing room. Whether that is a workout, time with friends and family or spending time on a hobby or personal development — make time for you.

Taking care of you is the prerequisite

While it may be the season of giving, if you don’t spend some time taking care of yourself, you’ll probably burn out. If you’re a people-pleaser and want to take care of all that needs to be done for your family and friends, make sure to give yourself what you need too. You’ll feel better and put energy in reserves. When you overextend for days or weeks on end, the cumulative effects are a far cry from jolly.

On the money

Retailers have turned the holiday season into a barrage of advertisements to keep the focus on materialism. While hard to escape altogether, there are ways to stay true to your values and avoid spending more money than you have.

  • Make a budget and keep a list of who will receive what.
  • Look for sales and keep track of your spending.
  • Consider what you can make, how you can create an experience to give or how a charitable donation might be meaningful.
  • For big groups, do a secret (or not-secret) Santa with a price cap so that each person has to buy only one gift.

Thoughtful, not expensive, gifts will almost always be more memorable.

The choice is yours

Whether during the holiday season or in the New Year, each day is an opportunity to be thoughtful about your actions. By reflecting and asking yourself these questions, you can dramatically improve your overall sense of well-being during the holiday season and beyond. Make time for what is most important and cut out what isn’t contributing positively in order to rediscover your very merry self.