February 26, 2018

Ask Karen: What are some ways to reduce stress during the holiday season?

ways to reduce stress during the holiday seasonQ: What are some ways to reduce stress during the holiday season?

A: This is a busy time of year – we all have so much to do, especially as parents, and there never seems to be enough time… which can make for a lot of stress!

There are, however, a few things you can do to make this month a little more manageable.  Here are a few ideas:

  1. Don’t aim for the “perfect holiday”.  It sounds good, but the reality is that “perfect” isn’t possible, and we set ourselves up for disappointment when we set expectations that are too high.  Instead…
  2. Decide what things matter most to you and your family.  Ask your kids what they love most about the season, and think about what traditions you most cherish, and look for ways to incorporate these throughout the month.  And to do this…
  3. You have to prioritize.  It’s easy to get so wrapped up (no pun intended) in gift buying, card sending, party planning and the like, that the more meaningful activities get put on the back burner.  Somehow it feels more critical in the moment to visit one more store or make one more trip to the post office, instead of reading a beloved story or snuggling on the couch to watch It’s A Wonderful Life, but which activity will leave you feeling more satisfied at the end of the day?
  4. Don’t try to do it all.  Where could you take some easy short-cuts?  Are there “shoulds” which you don’t enjoy, that you could either delegate or jettison?  Could you e-mail your cards?  Could you buy a frozen pie instead of making one from scratch?  Are there distant family members with whom you could agree not to exchange gifts?  Sometimes saving yourself a couple hours here and there can make for a lot less stress.  Also along these lines,
  5. Don’t be afraid to say “No!”  Sometimes one more activity, even if fun, is simply one too many.  Recognize when enough is enough.  Finally,
  6. Begin with the end in mind.  Think ahead to the end of the month and consider what memories you most want to have about the season just past.  On December 31, if you were to say, “What I loved best about this season were the times I/we ___________,” how would you complete the sentence?  Whatever you come up with, *these* are the most important tasks, for which time needs to be made.


Try to focus your thoughts (and time) on the joy of the season, look for simple ways to create meaningful family time, and savor the journey through December rather than looking at it as a marathon to be completed.  Good luck!


Karen Harvey, CEC, is a life coach and mother of two who specializes in working with moms.  Visit her website at www.clarityandbalance.com.  Follow her on Facebook too.

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