Emotional Health: 5 Tips for Staying Sane During the Holidays

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Are the holidays driving you nuts? Learn how to keep it together and enjoy time with your loved ones.

The holidays can be a stressful season. As you work to make time to see everyone, afford gifts in tough financial times, and get along with relatives who may not be super supportive or positive, anxiety will begin to soar. If you let the stress get to you it’s easy to find yourself in a depression or at a breaking point! Here are five tips for staying sane during the holidays.

holiday stress advice relationships marriage

1. Plan Ahead

Don’t let the holidays sneak up on you, especially if you know they are historically a hectic time in your life. Figure out who you’ll spend the holidays with, if you’ll be hosting, and what your gift list looks like well in advance. It’s always easier to pull together plans over several weeks or months than in a few days. If you make a decision on which party invitations to turn down long before the holidays, you won’t have to stress out in the days leading up to celebrations and will having an easier time staying sane during the holidays.

2. Be Realistic

You won’t necessarily be able to attend every holiday party you’re invited to, so let yourself off the hook and don’t feel guilty. There are plenty of graceful ways to decline an invitation, and people who really care about you will understand that you can’t be in three places at once. Likewise, if you’ve just moved or don’t have time to clean, don’t commit to hosting a celebration. Being realistic about what you can and can’t do will prevent anxiety. If you over commit yourself, you’re on a path to crazy town.

3. Compromise

If you’re married or in a relationship, compromise is key to staying sane during the holiday season. Take turns spending time with each others’ families and sharing your favorite traditions. Constant bickering over who gets to see their family on Christmas is wasted energy – agree to alternating holidays is a pretty easy solution. If traveling to see one family is financially out of reach every other year, come up with a plan to see the long distance family every third year, or whatever is realistic. Make your own traditions as a couple so you’re not always competing over whose family traditions are better.

4. Don’t Overspend

Budgeting is another key to sanity. It’s easy to rack up huge bills between decorations, party outfits, and gifts. When you start to add up the cost of your holiday season, it might take away your joy and replace it with stress. Stick to a realistic budget instead, so you don’t spend the new year scrambling to pay off your holidays.

holiday relationship advice marriage help5. Ignore the Scrooges

OK, so it’s easier said than done, but it’s important to ignore those family members who hate the holidays or are hypercritical of you whenever you see them. Make a conscious effort to laugh off negative comments and remind yourself that negative opinions are just that – opinions – and don’t let them ruin your holiday. Make a concerted effort to gravitate towards more positive people at gatherings and keep conversations short with someone you know gets under your skin.

About Jennine Estes, MFT

Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653