Let’s start by just saying that if you struggle with elevated stress during the holidays, you’re far from being alone. If you’re struggling even more this year, you’re likely not in the minority. Have you ever felt guilty for not being chipper and excited the moment December arrives? In reality, this is not how emotions work, and there’s no need to put this kind of pressure on yourself. This holiday season there may be even more to stress with the unknowns about who will be able to gather and travel and who won’t. The extra uncertainty doesn’t help.
Holiday stress is well documented but not often voiced. We don’t like to admit to feeling like a Grinch, nor do we want others to see us that way. As much as we like to associate stress strictly with negative life events, it can certainly be triggered by joyous events as well, especially if the preparation and planning is overwhelming. Keep reading as we dig deeper into what causes holiday stress, its triggers, and most importantly - ways to manage it in a healthy way. After all, we all deserve to enjoy our holiday time whether we’ve been naughty or nice.
Q & A
Is holiday stress real?
It is important to remember, and not just during the holidays, that everything you’re feeling is valid. Sometimes it’s difficult to bring up the topic of holiday stress during the most ‘wonderful time of the year’, but just because you won’t say so during Christmas dinner doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
Many factors can cause holiday stress and it can also be different for each of us. These factors can include stress from planning, the pressure of starting a new year, over-inflated expectations of ourselves and others, and of course during 2020, HEALTH! Considering the current pandemic we are all living through, it’s no wonder many people are struggling with stress more than previous years.
You should also know that there are two types of stress: eustress (related to positive events such as holidays) and distress (negative stress).  Even though eustress is essentially positive, for many people it can be extremely uncomfortable.
How can we reduce holiday stress?