Emotional Health: 5 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.


What About Surviving Holiday Stress as a Couple?

holiday advice for couples conflict stress

Relationship holiday stress might quickly cause distress between a couple if it’s not addressed. Consider the following suggestions to help keep your relationships strong during this time and all year long:

  1. Compromise.

    Alternate whose side of the family you spend certain celebrations with. Don’t ignore one side of your family, or that partner is bound to feel slighted. Know that sometimes you may not be able to see your family on a holiday, and you’ll have to make other arrangements.

  2. Be Inventive.

    Create traditions of your own to tighten the bolts on your relationship. Make the holidays special by creating new, personal memories.

  3. holiday advice for couples stressFormulate a “game plan.”

    Figure out how you will handle your schedule and traditions ahead of time. Work as a team to stick to your plan.

  4. Delegate jobs.

    Ensure that both people in the relationship are doing an equal part in planning and execution. Don’t let one person be entirely responsible for plans, because it’s too big a burden and resentments are bound to build.

  5. Respect each others’ differences.

    You and your partner might have very different ideas about how to spend the holidays. Even if you disagree, never put each others’ expectations or ideas down.

  6. Take the time to relax.

    Use meditation, breathing exercises, etc. to keep calm around the holidays. These simple measures can keep your blood pressure down and stop stress from making you sick.

  7. Avoid “venting” to your partner about his or her parents.

    Instead, have a sit-down and keep an open mind while discussing any problems you may have with your partner’s family.

  8. Focus on what is most important in the relationship.

    Let the small stuff fall to the wayside. Remember that the holiday season will pass soon enough, and life will calm back down! Thing long term, and let small arguments go.

How to Handle a Scrooge

how to handle a scrooge

Don’t get stuck in that holiday slump!  Here are a few tips to survive the holiday:

Filter the Comments:

If a family member is negative, don’t let it dampen the mood.  Instead of letting the comments keep you down, filter the comments and only allow yourself to think about the good statements. Yes, this is easier said than done, but with some conscious effort you can learn to let go of the bad comments and focus on the positive ones.

Stop the “Negative Radar”:

When we are aware of how negative a person reacts, we tend to build a “negative radar” and notice every complaint — you might even start to anticipate them or look for them.  Instead, turn off the radar and stop looking for the negative comments and reactions. Focus your mind on the good things about the holiday, like having fun with more positive family members, and remembering the things you love around the holidays.

Shift Your View:

Many people who are negative about the holidays often have a painful past or simply try to connect with others through self-pity and negativity.  The problem here is that it hurts relationships, rather than creating a connection or handling the past pains.  Shift your view and see the Scrooge as sad and attempting to connect with others (even though it doesn’t feel like it).  Try to look at them from a new lens.


Take breaks throughout the day, calm your nerves, and re-energize yourself.  When people get upset and bothered, the body reacts. It tightens up, and you will take shorter breathes. Make an effort to take deep breathes, oxygenate your body, and calm down.  If you notice that you’re getting agitated, take breaks away from the negative environment and step outside or take “bathroom” breaks.  A 5-10 minute break can help re-energize and help you get through the day. Incorporate a holiday activity you enjoy to help keep your mood up – like baking some holiday treats!

Play a game:

Take a challenge with your partner and bet on how many times a negative comments come out.  Spice up the holiday a bit and play a game with it.  Learn how to see it as funny and something that can tighten your bond with your partner.  Make fun of the situation and don’t let it keep you down…. I dare you!

Focus on the Goal:

Remind yourself that there is an end and you get to go home.  Focus on why you are there, instead of getting irritated. Strengthen the bonds with other family members and friends, don’t let one person bring you all down.  If your goal is to have a good holiday, make it happen!  Don’t let other people get in your way.

Feeling the holiday stress? check out a this article : Surviving the Holidays

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