Battling and overcoming stress during the Christmas holiday season can be a challenge to anyone. There are several things that can lead to this type of stress:

  • Gatherings with extended family members
  • Hosting family members
  • Dealing with in-laws
  • Coping with the loss of loved ones (this is key after the COVID-19 pandemic)
  • Loss of jobs, businesses, and income
  • Busy and loud stores with extra long queues
  • Tying to complete projects and beat deadlines before the end of the year
  • Planning for travel (and travelling)
  • Interpersonal and relationship conflicts
  • Financial challenges
  • Nannies and domestic staff going on leave
  • …and much more

You may also have high expectations that add to the stress of your holiday.

Try these strategies to overcome stress during the holiday season

1. Are you over-committed?

The holiday season comes with numerous social gatherings that most of us feel we must attend. The fact is that you don’t have to go to every event you’re invited to.

Saying “No, thank you.” to some of the invitations will free up more of your time. If it takes saying “no” to preserve some of your sanity, go for it! Some people may get upset, but others will be more understanding than you give them credit for.

You also need to say No to requests or invitations to head or be part of committees. This happens at work and in social circles and it takes a lot of your time and energy.

2. Drop unnecessary traditions

Growing up, you observed and participated in your family’s traditions. For example, in many Kenyan families, women cook a large meal on Christmas day. Men slaughter and roast one or more goats while having some alcohol or just hanging out chatting. They get fed regularly and also pass roast meat to the women as the day moves along.

At the end of the day, the women and young children have to clear up. If the gathering included heavy drinking, some drunk people need to be ferried home. The holiday, which was meant to bring people together, ends up being fun for a few, and a lot of work for others.

Those who have travelled to come home for this kind of holiday also end up working at home or on the family farm as part of their holiday. It does help if you have your own home within or separate from the main family compound because you get some measure of privacy and control.

For some families, it may be traditional to host a lavish party that takes weeks to plan and coordinate. Maybe you’re expected to chip into the huge Christmas budget or prepare some of the meals in advance.

Such traditions are passed on to the daughters, sons, and in-laws, especially the women who get married into the family. Traditions are good. But they can be a hindrance if you allow yourself to become so wrapped up in a tradition that it consumes you.

If you find that what you’re doing for the sake of tradition is weighing on you and resulting in more stress than you can deal with, break away from it. You’ll be happier when you’re free from this stress.

You can also create new traditions that suit your current situation

You can start your own easy-going traditions to replace the ones that don’t work for you. For example, instead of throwing a lavish party, have fewer friends over for lunch and afternoon tea and cookies. You can also do a potluck and allow other family members to bring dishes to the holiday meal rather than cooking it all by yourself.

It’s also important to come up with new traditions if you’re now separated, divorced, or if you’re widowed. You don’t have to keep traditions that are no longer relevant or that cause you pain and grief. Give yourself a gift of acceptance this holiday season. And put your emotional well-being first as you create your new traditions.

3. Book an Airbnb

You don’t have to stay in places where you’re uncomfortable or don’t feel welcome. In today’s world, you can book yourself into an Airbnb close to your family destination and give yourself some breathing space.

This may require a bit of negotiation in advance if you’re married or have a significant other. More so if you’re avoiding staying with your in-laws for an extended time.

Book your Airbnb in advance or find a way to have this discussion with your significant other so that you book in advance.

But also remember to do your due diligence before booking so that you don’t end up getting conned. It would be a double disaster to arrive and find that the place you booked is not what you expected or that it’s not available and you’ve already paid for it!

4. Prioritize your self-care

Don’t become so burdened that you secretly wish for the season to pass quickly. Protect your time and energy for what matters most to you and also for your self-care.

Take time to be by yourself. Whether you take a yoga class or a bubble bath, allow yourself to do something enjoyable without worrying about the holiday stress.

I’d recommend that you build 30-minutes of self-care into your day and make this a habit before the holiday rush begins. It’s easier to continue with a habit that you already had in place instead of trying to start in the thick of the season.

5. Take a break from extended family

There was a time when it was almost unheard of to go for the Christmas holiday away from your family and friends. Today, this is becoming more acceptable.

If you truly need a break and don’t want to get caught up in all the family drama, why not give yourself and your immediate family this gift?

  • You can book a holiday for yourself if you’re single, or for yourself and your immediate family.
  • You could do a staycation where you stay at home and behave as if you’re on holiday.
  • Or you could book yourself into a hotel or Air BnB near home so that you don’t have to travel far.

There are many things you can do if you choose not to travel. They don’t have to be high cost or involve many people. The goal is for you to relax and have a holiday season that’s as stress-free as possible.

You may end up catching flack from your family for missing out on the extended family gathering. But I’m sure the peace of mind you’ll have will make up for this.

6. Pay January bills in advance

One of the biggest challenges people have is being broke post-Christmas and having a challenge with January bills. A solution is to pay bills for January in advance…before starting to spend for Christmas.

There’s a lot of pressure to spend in November and December. Not only are there Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers online and offline. All stores have offers that seem too good to be true, fueling the need to buy.

Additionally, thanks to the internet, modern African families are starting to add traditions like Christmas trees and Christmas gifts to the holiday season. Growing up, Christmas was more of getting a new outfit and shoes on top of the Christmas day feasting. Today, there is additional pressure from children for Christmas gifts that they can show off to their friends.

This is also the season when many people have access to extra money from their chamas, bonuses at work, and easy access to loans. So there’s readily accessible money and people are waiting for you to spend it with them!

All this pressure adds up and takes away your money. So you need to be wise and sort out the necessary bills and payments before spending. Pay your rent/mortgage, loans and utilities for January in advance. Also, sort out any school-related expenses for your children. You can also take advantage of the offers to bulk shop for January so that you have the necessary groceries and supplies covered.

There are other things that you can take care of by setting money aside for them. These include your transport or fuel, salaries for domestic workers, and any other bills you need to pay before you get paid in January.

This strategy alone is going to drastically reduce your stress over the holidays as you will be free to enjoy yourself without worrying about January bills.

Over to you…

Long gone are the days when as a child, the holiday season was highly anticipated and there was a sense of magic in the air.

As an adult, you may find the season more stressful than joyous and may even consider holiday stress as a necessary holiday tradition!

As you can see, there are several effective ways to battle and overcome stress during the holidays. The key is to determine what’s causing your stress and eliminate as much of it as you can. This is key if the stress is as a result of the expectations you pose on yourself!

Do you need help with difficult conversations?

Are you feeling stressed when you think of the holiday season? Will you be able to speak up for yourself, especially when it comes to traditions that don’t work for you or your family? Can you handle taking a different path this year if need be and if you need to reduce holiday-induced stress?

Many women struggle when it comes to having crucial conversations in their personal and professional lives. It may not be easy to have these conversations during the holiday season. You need to learn and implement tactics in advance so that you handle the conversations more positively.

Book a complimentary Discovery Call today and find out how coaching can help you become more confident and speak up for yourself more in your relationships and at work.

(Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

Affiliate Disclaimer: Some of the links on this site are affiliate links from which we receive a small commission from sales of certain items. As an Amazon Associate, Biashara 360 also earns from qualifying purchases. However, we only recommend products or services that we or our clients have used effectively and that we believe will help our readers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.