Moms Who Want to Reduce Holiday Stress: There is Hope For you!
I absolutely love Christmas. There is something about the season that gets me all excited and feeling festive. It also tends to be the time of year that I can feel most stressed and depressed. Christmas has a way of getting me in all the feels- especially when it comes to family, expectations, and the overwhelming number of things to keep track of as a mom. The mental load is REAL.
Disclaimer: My story is a personal account of my own journey overstimulation and overload, and what I have learned along the way. It should not be taken as a substitute for professional advice. I strongly believe that anyone who feels they may need support seek the help of a qualified health care professional – they were vital in my own journey, and are trained to find the right support for each person’s unique and individual care. If you are in crisis – know there are many compassionate and expert teams available to help you. Call 911 or consult with your local emergency department. If you need help you deserve it, and can get it.
1. Coping with Holiday Stress: Adjust your expectations
One of the biggest sources of disappointment we experience is that of unmet expectations. And, without realizing it, we ALL have expectations. The gifts we expect to receive, the help we expect to be offered by our family, the amount of money things will cost, the interactions we have with family members, and the amount of time and energy certain commitments take are all examples of expectations that can either be met or unmet. I would personally rather be pleasantly surprised than be disappointed. If nothing else, lower your expectations.
2. Avoid Holiday Stress: Say No, Be Intentional about your Yes’s
It is better to say an awkward no than a resentful yes. During the holiday season there is often an abundance of events to go to, traditions to maintain, gift exchanges to take part in, and social gatherings to juggle. While some of these things may be really important and bring us real joy, others drain every ounce of energy and leave us wondering why we took part. I suggest looking back over the years and weighing the things we loved vs the things we didn’t. Also, sometimes we loved a lot of things but there were just too many.
Pro tip: It is important to prioritize our yes’s so that we actually have the energy and capacity to fully enjoy them.
3. De-stress this Holiday Season with a Schedule Rest
If we don’t create space and time to relax and not be on the go, nobody else will. Block off time in the calendar to just be. Schedule quiet days or quiet nights in. As moms we are often the ones in charge of the family schedule and planning events and commitments so we have the power and responsibility to schedule breaks- for us AND for our kids. When we feel like we have had the chance to breathe we will be that much more patient and have the energy to be more fully present during the rest of the holiday festivities. Make rest a priority, even if you don’t think you’ll need it.
4. Create a Stress-Free Budget for the Holidays and - Stick to it!
Everything costs money over the holidays and it gets out of control so easily. Even with the best of intentions, the budget can go out the window, the credit card bill gets higher and you’re left feeling out of control and depressed come January. Overspending during the holidays is extremely common. Everywhere we look there are advertisements, photos of our friends and family doing all the things, and pressure to do what everyone else is doing. We want to make our children happy and fully experience the holidays. It can be easy to lose track. So how do you spend less and reduce stress this holiday season? I highly recommend setting a budget and sticking to it, it can make all the difference for those January blues.
Recently I was interviewed by Tandia Financial Credit Union for their new podcast “Tandia Talks Money” where we spoke about finances over the holidays — in a relatable way. On it I shared some of my favourite budget friendly family traditions and we discussed tools we can use to create a budget-friendly Christmas.
We also covered how to manage holiday expectations and create traditions that make sense for your family. It is important to keep in mind that we don’t have to participate in everything, buy everything, or do everything we THINK makes it a magical holiday. The holidays are exactly what we make them and there are so many ways to make them magical without breaking the bank and regretting money spent. Listen to the podcast here and find out game changing tips that changed how I approach money at Christmas time.
For the month of December I will be donating 10% of the proceeds from any merch sold through this website to a local women’s shelter. Tandia will match every dollar.
5. Give Yourself a Present in the Form of a Plan
With kids in tow, the holidays can get really complicated really fast, especially if you don’t have a plan. It is not only important to plan your events and activities throughout the month so that you aren’t at events back to back to back, but planning for each event can take off a lot of stress.
Who is going to be in charge of packing the bags? Who is taking the kids for all their bathroom trips? Who is in charge of feeding the kids? Who gets to drink and who is going to drive? What is the plan if someone melts down? How much are we going to spend?
As moms it is easy to just take on all of these responsibilities or to not make a plan and end up doing it all and feeling exhausted and resentful. Make a plan so that you are mentally prepared for what each event is going to take out of you and what you can look forward to.
6. Reduce Holiday Stress and Expect Things Not to Go to Plan
We all know as parents that life with children rarely goes to plan and we have so much less control than we would like. While it is important to be prepared for many different scenarios it is equally important to be flexible enough to alter the plan. Kids get sick, work comes up, weather changes, you forget diapers, you get caught in a conversation with old aunt Agnes- anything can happen. Sometimes we make mistakes and other times things just do go as planned. Being mentally prepared for the fact that you might have to pivot can go a long way in managing the stress spike that often comes with things not going to plan. Expecting some things not to work out is like preventative care for our stress levels.
7. Handle Holiday Stress by Holding Your Boundaries
We can be loving and compassionate while being clear about what behaviour we are willing to accept and what responsibilities we are willing to take on. Creating and maintaining boundaries, especially with family members is hard even on the best of days- nevermind during the holidays. During the holidays we are not only more stressed than usual but we are interacting more often and more intimately and sometimes for longer periods than any other time in the year. Often those we love dearly, and sometimes even the humans who raised us are the ones who push our boundaries the most. You’ve worked too hard on your boundaries just to throw them out the window just because it’s the holidays. For more information on how to set and maintain boundaries, I recommend this fantastic book by Dr. Henry Cloud
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8. Bust the Holiday Blues and Move Your Body
When it comes to any aspect of maintaining our mental health, research shows that exercise plays a major role in helping us to feel balanced, to feel less stressed, and more energetic. At the end of the day, no matter what we do to try and limit the amount of stress we feel or the number of situations that will cause us stress – it will inevitably happen. Making time to exercise goes a very long way in staving off the effects of stress and releasing some of those feelings once they have arrived.
Even just a walk outdoors daily has positive effects on our brains, our nervous systems and our ability to cope with everyday life stressors. Make a plan to walk with a friend, go alone and listen to a podcast, or press play on any number of at home workouts. Just 20 minutes a day can do wonders for your stress levels.
9. Maintain Your Mental Health this Season and Delegate
Mama’s I know it is hard. We just know where everything is. We know how to do it “right”. We want it done a certain way. It takes less energy to do it ourselves than to ask someone to. It’s not worth the fight. There are a million reasons why we don’t delegate and why we end up bearing the burden of being the doer of all the things. But it leads to stress. It leads to burnout. It leads to exhaustion. It leads to resentment. It sucks the joy out of the holidays.
Communicate with your partner and talk about how you can split tasks. Be okay with the way someone else does things even if they aren’t perfect. Tell other people what you need and what will help you. Make your expectations known to your family. Give tasks away and notice how you have a few more moments of peace. Delegation can be a beautiful thing.
10. Have Hope for the Holidays and Have Fun
Seriously. Let loose. So what if you forgot to stuff the turkey or you ran out of whip cream for the pie. So what if the house is a disaster. So what if the baby crapped all over the brand new Christmas outfit you got for him or your husband forgot to wear the matching sweater you got for the whole family. In the long run, our families are going to remember how they felt when they were around us. Sure, traditions are awesome, and it’s fun to make magical memories, but they aren’t magical when we feel like a basket case.
Remember to let go and have fun, to be in the moment, to leave the mess, to ignore the toxic family members, to eat the extra dessert and to join in the family games instead of the other thing you feel is more important at the time. Prioritize having a great time and your family is bound to remember that. You deserve to have fun too!
Did you find these tips helpful? Make sure to share this blog with a friend before the holiday season really is in FULL swing!
Feeling stressed about the holidays? Take a load off and binge a few of my funny AF Christmas Tiktoks, and don’t forget to follow me.