This stretch of the calendar with American Thanksgiving coming up and then straight into Christmas festivities can be overwhelming. The holidays are supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. And yet, on the Holmes and Rahe psychological stress scale, Christmas traditions were listed as more stressful than minor law violations. How is that possible? Well, today I’m exploring four common causes of holiday stress.
1. Mile Long To-Do Lists
The hustle and bustle of Christmas cannot be denied. There is shopping for gifts, decorating the house, baking for the cookie swap, writing and sending out cards, wrapping presents, and making food for all of the parties and get togethers. And those are just the first things I thought of right off the top of my head. There can be an underlying expectation that the holiday be “perfect” like we see in Christmas specials. We expect to achieve it so long as we micromanage every detail.
2. Financial Strain
On that Holmes and Rahe scale I mentioned earlier, financial difficulties ranked equal to the death of a close friend. So it makes sense that in a survey, spending on gifts was cited as the biggest source of holiday stress by 65% of participants. We want our presents to be an expression of how much we appreciate our loved ones, but sometimes that seems to come with a pretty hefty price tag. There are also the added costs of Christmas decorations, increased utility bills, travel, extra food for parties – not to mention Christmas dinner itself – and more.
3. Gift Giving Pressure
Gift giving has become a triple threat. I already mentioned it in the to-do list and under financial strain. There is also the added social-emotional aspect of gift giving. There is a lot of pressure to find the right gift because some interpret it as a representation of the importance you place on the relationship. We worry about giving a gift that is of similar value to the mystery present we’re going to receive as well. No one wants to unintentionally disappoint or even offend the recipient.
4. Family Tension
Whenever a large group of people come together there is potential for conflict. Add into the mix that these people are your family or your in-laws, and it’s pretty much a guarantee. Baggage associated with our upbringing is normal, but that doesn’t make it any more enjoyable. Family gatherings can stir up unhappy memories, expose you to toxic family members, magnify differences with your in-laws, and more. You may even find that you and your relatives start feeling – and behaving – like you did when you were a child.
So what is there to be done about it? Well, don’t let the holidays sneak up and surprise you. You can be intentional and prepared, and I can help you do it.
I have created the email course Comfort & Joy: 21 Days of Self-Care to Get You Through the Holidays.
Each day you will learn a simple and original self-care strategy. Many of the self-care challenges in the course hit directly on the four common causes of holiday stress mentioned above, so you can solve these particular issues that plague so many people.
This ecourse will run from November 27th to December 17th and guide you through this hectic time between Thanksgiving and Christmas so you can create a peaceful season of celebration for yourself and your family.
I have also created and included 8 printables, templates, and resources in order to make this process as easily-achievable as possible. Click the link above or the photo below to check it out. Comfort & Joy is only on sale for two more weeks. Together we can make this your most enjoyable holiday season yet.
What is a common cause of holiday stress for you?