How to Let Go of Holiday Stress and Be Joyful

Are you feeling overwhelmed with the pressures and demands of the holidays?  Does the prospect of decorating the tree, shipping all the presents and making Christmas dinner make you want to head to the top of Mount Crumpit and move in with the Grinch?

If so, you’re not alone.  Many people report that the holiday season is the most stressful time of the year for them.  Some people feel so maxed out that they become extremely irritable, anxious or even clinically depressed.  What many people don’t realize is that stress comes from inside of us not outside of us.  In other words, our reaction to situations around us is under our control.  Our attitude is ours to create.  And therefore, our mood is our choice.

Here’s a story about Lee who went from feeling overwhelmed and stressed to embracing the joys of the season by simply choosing to have a different attitude.  She was dreading the shopping, decorating, and party preparations on top of all of her regular responsibilities of work and taking care of the kids.  Additionally, she had two sinus infections within four weeks of each other and was ready to throw up her hands and skip the whole season.

When Lee and her family brought home the Christmas tree, her head was aching, she was exhausted from a week of nightly meetings, two holiday parties and still suffering from the lingering sinus infection.   On the other hand, her two kids were so excited to see the tree and couldn’t wait to start decorating.  Lee knew at that moment she was faced with a decision.

She remembered that her mood was her choice and decided to embrace the joys of the holidays and make her family time special.  She let herself remember how wonderful it is to pull out the ornaments that bring back fond memories of Christmases over the years.  She focused on the fact that before she knew it her two young children would be grown and out of the house and she needed to cherish the time she had with them.  She got in touch with her maternal instincts to create a warm, loving, happy environment for her family.

And finally, she briefly sat her family down and explained that she intended to choose to have a good time that evening and asked for them to choose to do the same.  A little surprised, they agreed not to bicker over who gets to put the angel on top of the tree or who gets to hang certain ornaments and decided to make to make it fun.  This simple act of deciding what to focus on changed the whole family’s attitude, lifted much of the burden off of Lee and put a smile on everyone’s face.  The Christmas carols and hot chocolate helped too!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed like Lee, think about the things that you love about the holidays and bring that perspective into your own life.  Choosing to focus on the joys of the season will help you embrace them and have the best holidays ever.

Please comment below and let us know what you do to embrace the joys of the season?

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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart,
  1. I had a similar situation with health issues and financial concerns…so we’ve made it an old fashioned Christmas. My son and husband helped me decorate and everyone was cooperative. I played Christmas carols ad nauseum all day, but it put all of us in a great mood. It was so much fun sharing with my son the origins of each ornament…I hope he will remember this Christmas as much as I will.

  2. You really are a talented writer. Please don’t stop writing. There are only a limited of blogs still that I enjoy and yours is one of them! Keep up the good blog.

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