8 Ways to Stop Holiday Stress Before It Starts

The holidays have arrived in 2022 and for most people, the stress has, too.

As we trot away from Thanksgiving it’s time to look ahead to Christmas, which can bring a fair amount of anxiety, stress, and financial strain for those who aren’t prepared.

Make realistic expectations

There is nothing wrong with envisioning an awesome family Christmas, unless you’re expecting everything to be as perfect as some of the scenes you scroll past on Instagram.

You may not find every gift you shop for, and you may not get the desired reaction on every gift you hand out.

Cherish old traditions and introduce new ones

As families evolve, rituals change. Parents with adult children will inevitably see some holiday traditions come to an end as their children grow up and, in some cases, move away.

Take this opportunity to introduce new traditions, like virtual gift unwrapping or a Christmas movie watch-along. If you are celebrating your first holiday after the passing of a loved one, start a new tradition in their honor. Cook their favorite dish for Christmas each year or make a playlist of their favorite songs. Or try launching a new tradition among the family like a themed gift exchange or a holiday family walk.

Set a budget and stick to it

This one has “easier said than done” written all over it, but it can be done.

Gifts, food, travel, and decorations all might factor into your budget so be kind to your bank account this Christmas and avoid impulse purchases.

For some people, there is real merit in making an organized, physical guideline to follow. So, when drafting your budget, write down the names of everyone you’ll buy gifts for this year and set a dollar figure for each person. Then, track your spending as you go with a rolling log.

You can also try brainstorming a couple of homemade gift ideas specific to each person on your list to keep that budget on track.

Practice gratitude and focus on what really matters

Maybe you’ll get online or head to the store and that perfect toy or gift you had targeted will be sold out. Or, you’ll have to bounce from grocery store to grocery store to find every ingredient you need to make that big holiday dinner.

These can be frustrating situations, but try to zoom out, take a deep breath and think of the bigger picture. Will this matter in a few hours? How about a few days? Will you find a way to resolve this issue and move on? Be kind to yourself. The holidays can test your patience but if you keep their deeper meaning in mind – family, gratitude, and togetherness – hopefully, you can brush off these minor moments of frustration.

Make time for self-care

Adopting a self-care routine can help reduce stress. Sometimes physical activity goes by the wayside during the holidays but carve out some time to exercise a few days a week. Prioritize rest and sleep. Learn to say no. And join Blue Cross Virtual Well-Being webinars and meditation sessions at bluecrossvirtualwellbeing.com to get tips for living a healthier, happier life.

Shop little by little

Pacing yourself is key in avoiding holiday shopping stress. Odds are, if you’ve been doing this for 10 or 20 holiday seasons, you don’t need to be told to start early. But the savings seem to start earlier and earlier each year, so consider knocking out an hour or two of shopping each weekend for the next month.

Starting early also gives you wiggle room against online shipping delays. Nightmarish traffic and crowded stores await if you cram all your shopping into the last two weeks of December.

Delegate tasks

You may feel like Superwoman or Superman once December hits, but you’ll only increase your stress levels by trying to be a one-person show. Ask your family, friends, or neighbors to help with errands, decorations, meal prepping, and gift-wrapping.

Your time is even more precious around the holidays, so save some of it when you can.

Maintain or improve mental well-being

Mental health is connected to nearly all facets of life and influences how you handle stress. Focusing on your mental well-being could put you in a better headspace to handle all the holidays chaos. Visit bcbsm.com/mentalhealth for tips and resources to help enhance your mental well-being.

Here you’ll find mental health guides to meet the specific needs of parents, seniors and more.

Keep reading: 

Help! I Feel Sad During the Holidays

How to Help Your Friends be Less Negative

A New Approach to Dealing with Chronic Pain

Photo credit: Getty Images

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