It is the time of the year we are supposed to feel joyful and excited, yet so many of us may feel overwhelmed, dreading all the planning, and do not like the person we become during this season.

There is the job-related stress (worrying about getting work done during vacation); sitting more often and eating more; increased spending for travel and gifts; pressure to please friends and family, parties and celebrations to attend, or loneliness and financial concerns – all of these can contribute to elevated stress levels and lead to feeling overwhelmed.

According to a study by the American Psychology Association, 61% of respondents claim to experience stress during the holidays, and 68% experience fatigue.  The study also showed that women, and lower income individuals were more likely to experience stress during the holidays.

What can you do to dial down the stress and make it the most wonderful time of the year? Here are a few tips:

  1. Ask yourself, “Is there anything on my plate I can take off?” Can I delegate some things to other people to reduce my load? If not, can I break a task down to manageable parts.
  2. When the day is over, simply stop doing. If you can’t get it all done and have worked hard, you can pick up the “to dos” tomorrow when you are fresher. Or maybe, just say no to another thing even though you know you can do it. You need space to breathe!
  3. Let go of perfectionism. While some us don’t like not doing our best every time, there are times when you need to be more realistic about time frames and what can get done and move on to the next thing. During those times, accept that you can’t do everything perfectly.
  4. Think quality over quantity. This may sound the opposite of the above, but it isn’t. Be specific about one realistic goal for each of the most important people in your life. Think of each person, what is something you want to say or do from your heart? It could be an unexpressed sentiment or time with that person, or a gift that has personal meaning. Focus on quality and make it meaningful.
  5. Be grateful for your family and focus on their good points. One day you may not have them and so you want to build good memories. This will be the first year I have no parents at the holidays! But I am so glad we made the effort to be with them every year despite the travel, expense and all. Make positive memories that will stay with you for a lifetime.
  6. Don’t get lost in the commercialization of Christmas. Keep the true meaning of Christmas in focus. Read the Christmas story as a family. Attend a church service. Send Christmas cards that remind us all of the spiritual message of the season. Write a letter to a missionary and give a donation. Distraction is how we lose sight of the true meaning of the holidays. It has been said, “If the devil cannot make you bad, he will make you busy.” Begin your day with God’s word and center yourself. Joy comes from the awareness of the gift of God’s son and his presence.

This holiday season, don’t become overwhelmed. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with you and me.

How to avoid that overwhelmed holiday feeling

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