Managing stress during the festive seasonThe festive season is upon us!

I’m not really sure how it snuck up on us quite so quickly and yet here we are!

This time of year can be a time of immense celebration and relaxation but unfortunately it can also cause immense pressure and stress!


If you find yourself falling into the latter category, there are small things that you can do to ease the feeling of pressure and move yourself towards a greater feeling of wellbeing as you experience the holiday season.

Let’s face it, it’s been an extremely pressure filled year, each of us has in some way been affected by the global pandemic and economic pressures caused so if there was ever a year to give ourselves a break and lower our expectations for Christmas, holiday, family and friend celebrations this is it.

And even if you are really looking forward to the lights, delicious food and fun during the holiday season, it may still bring with it some stress.

Gathering and ordering the perfect ingredients to create that delectable picture perfect meal, attending all of the required social events or finding the perfect gift for your loved ones can lead to a huge amount of stress. If your budget is smaller this year due to financial pressures that can also make it so much harder to find the right gift and the worry that comes with it – will the person love it?

For many the holiday season can be overwhelming and for others extremely lonely, wherever you find yourself on this holiday emotional roller coaster ride, it’s ok to feel exactly how you are feeling but just know you don’t need to stay there.  There are some small yet significant things that you can do to lessen the pressure you may feel, relax your state and increase your mood to better enjoy the season and end 2020 in a stronger more resilient place of wellbeing!

  1. Make a list: Before you do ANYTHING, make a list. Get every single thing out of your head that you are thinking about and that has to be done.  Break it into categories, work, family, friends, social, charity and so forth.
  2. Be Kind To Yourself and Your Wallet: If you find that your finances are running low, look for ways to make Christmas memorable without giving gifts. The gift of your time and your company may be all some of your friends and family desire from you. Can you use your own zone of genius and personal skill to make unique gifts, bake something or create an experience that your friends and family will love.  With covid hotspots still prevalent all over the world, travel is mostly off the cards, so continue to utilize video and face to face phone calls (maybe dress up in your favourite Christmas attire and enjoy a celebratory eggnog, hot chocolate or chilled glass of champagne.
  3. It’s safe to say “No”: If you usually struggle to say no and end up exhausting yourself, this is the year to end that pattern of self-sabotage. Plan your days and weeks in advance (as much as you can) and block out time for self-care, rest and regeneration, just like you would block time out for a dentist or doctors visit.  It’s just as important as both of those health care visits so go ahead and put it into your schedule now. Schedule time out for your family as well with as little as possible back to back excursions or demands. This is not the year to pretend everything is perfect or try and achieve the perfect house, function, event or anything else. Say no in a polite yet firm way.  You definitely don’t need to explain yourself however if you would like to say something (rather than just “no”) some of these suggestions may help:

I wish I could make it work.

I wish I were able to.

I’m afraid I can’t.

If only I could!

No thanks, I won’t be able to make it.

Not this time.

Unfortunately, it’s not a good time.

I wish there were two of me, but I can’t.

I have something else on. Sorry.

Maybe another time.

I would if I could, but I can’t.

I’d love to — but…

Oh, I’d love to but my schedule is booked solid already

So sorry, I’d love to but I can’t

  1. Know When To End Unwanted Conversations: Catching up with family members and distant relations (if you can safely visit each other) sounds lovely but the reality can be anything but. From differing opinions and strong personalities, feuds and heated exchanges can sometimes result. Alcohol consumption can further fuel these interactions so be mindful of your drinking habits (if you are nervous and drink too fast – drink sparkling water in a wine glass rather than wine) and if you notice others drinking to excess, simply move to another area of the house (if you can). If you are concerned about being asked questions that you really don’t want to answer or that are too difficult or painful to answer, change the conversation by offering to carry around the charcuterie board, dips or crackers or to kindly refill a glass.  It’s a super simple way to divert any unwanted conversation without being abrupt, rude or confrontational.
  2. It’s OK to Mention (and miss) Loved Ones That Have Passed On:

I still miss my Mum and this Christmas is no different (she passed in 2006) I honor my mum by making her favourite desserts (brandy snaps filled with fresh cream and Christmas pudding with custard).  It’s a lovely treat.  While there is no way to replace the presence of a loved one, it’s ok to talk about them and it’s ok to feel sad. My family and I talk about Mum as much and as often as we like and we all know that it’s total ok to have sad smiles and tears.  Find a way that feels right for you to honor their memory during the holidays; it might be donating your time or money to causes that remind you of them or that they loved.  It may be looking at old pictures, putting a special ornament on your Christmas tree or doing something like I do and incorporate a holiday tradition that they really loved into your holiday season

  1. It’s Your Time – Consciously Choose How You Want To Spend It: Everyone enjoys their holidays differently, you may be an introvert, an extrovert or reside somewhere between the two. Choose the perfect way of recharging your body, being and soul that works for you.  Choose to be social or choose some alone time.  Last I heard, there isn’t a holiday rule (or the holiday police) that enforce us to do one certain thing. You could choose solitude and time out to recharge and reflect or you could arrange some friends and family get togethers (in person or virtually) depending on your current covid19 situation. Pandering to everyone else’s needs and requirements can be grueling and suck your energy at warp speed leaving you feeling exhausted and deflated by the time the New Year rolls around and after the year that we have all had, it’s vital to recharge and reset your mind and body to move into 2021 feeling confident and calm. If you find yourself alone for the holiday season and feeling lonely, a great idea is to jump online and check out meetup.com.  There is such a variety of groups to join (both virtual and in person) that are diverse, fun and inclusive.  You could search out a volunteer activity, a support group or host an “orphans” Christmas celebration with others that might also find themselves alone over the holidays.  One last wonderful idea that can bring untold joy into your life for the season is *pet sitting (plus it gives peace and comfort) to the pet’s owner (*if you’re legally allowed to have a pet in your home).

Whatever plans you decide on, I hope that you have a happy, restful and rejuvenating festive season and as always: please know that you are more than welcome to reach out for support here