Dealing with Holiday Stress

Ho, ho, hoooooo!!!! Yes, let’s take a step back first.

Holiday Season Stresses

Preparing for and celebrating the holidays comes with increased demands on our time and activity. We feel stressed when we cannot meet the demand and there can be several reasons why this is so. One of the common ways that coping may fall short has to do with expectations. Another has to do with the kinds of strategies we use to cope when under stress. When expectations (of ourselves, of others, of how the celebration should unfold) are not realistic, stress is often the result. Holidays and celebrations are events out of the ordinary and we often expect something extraordinary of them. Many of us want to find the perfect gift, prepare the perfect meal or host the family gathering where every member of the family brings out their best and most loving behaviour.

Counting down the days left to shop, making travel plans, and organizing family get-togethers can leave you feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, rather than full of holiday cheer. The holiday season brings with it a great amount of responsibilities, and even the fun activities can leave you feeling tired and stressed. According to the American Psychological Association, the main sources of holiday stress are related to relationships, finances, and physical demands. By following a few practical tips, you can reduce and manage the stress that accompanies the holiday season.

Three Areas of Difficulties

Relationships can create stress at any time, but tensions and conflicts are often intensified during the holiday season when increased demands are placed on family members. On the other hand, facing the holidays without a loved one can create feelings of sadness and loneliness.

Financial issues often arise during the holiday season leading to undesirable stress. Gifts, travel, food, and entertainment expenses add up quickly and can lead to unexpected debt.

Physical demands of the holiday season can initiate or increase stress. Shopping for gifts, attending social gatherings, and preparing holiday meals can be exhausting.

(source: The American Psychological Association.


The Canadian Psychological Association has created a handout with tips for dealing with holiday stress. Here is a link to download the file.

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