Don't stress out over preparing for the holidays! Overcome stress and enjoy the holidays with these tips.

{Post by Heather Hice-McCray}

Fall is here which means the busiest time of the year is upon us. In addition to the regular daily stresses we have, the holidays can add much more stress then we would like. It happens to the best of us. That’s why I believe it’s so important for us to have a plan to overcome holiday stress and enjoy the holidays.

I know from my own experience I always start out with the best of intentions going into the holidays.

Every year I tell myself…

…I’m not going to go overboard.

…I’m going to enjoy more and do less.

…I’m not attempting to do everything.

The list goes on and on. And every year I find myself trying to do it all.

I truly want to make ALL the cookies from scratch and of course they’ll turn out exactly like my grandmas. I just know this is the year I’m going to nail every homemade Pinterest decoration I’ve pinned. I will go to all the holiday activities and parties. And most importantly I WILL enjoy every single second.

What ends up happening is quite a different story.

Half my cookies don’t turn out quite the way I envisioned, some even finding their way straight into the trash can.

In order to nail my homemade Pinterest decorations I probably should have started collecting the supplies and/or making them back in August.

Trying to go to all the holiday parties with the rest of our responsibilities is laughable.

And about a week from Christmas I find myself extremely frustrated and ready for the holidays to be over.

So much for enjoying every single second.

Not painting a very inviting picture of the holidays for you, am I? But I have a feeling you’re not much different than I am. That’s why I’ve come up with three ways to truly overcome holiday stress and enjoy your holidays.

Overcome Holiday Stress and Enjoy the Holidays

Steps to Overcome Holiday Stress

Lower Your Expectations

This is by far the biggest one for most of us.

Expectations about what we “think” the holidays should be like or how we “want” them to go is the beginning of the end. I know that part of my personality is an overachieving, type-A, get everything done and it needs to be perfect and nothing else will do mentality.


Yet each and every year, I set expectations I can’t meet. This is ultimately what gets the ball rolling in the polar opposite direction of how I’m wanting my holidays to go.

I have to say I’ve gotten better each and every year with setting lower expectations, but it’s still something I struggle with. I have this idealized idea of what the holidays should be like.

The truth of the matter is with kids and half a million other things going on there is no possible way my expectations are ever going to turn into reality.

As I’ve lowered my expectations year by year, although I’m nowhere near perfect in my execution of this, my happiness has increased. It’s a freeing experience to have less expectations and self-imposed pressures on myself.

Pick 3 Things You Want to Do

…Or 5 or 7.

Instead of focusing on the many, many things you want to do, try picking a set number of things that are important to you to accomplish over the holiday season. Things you can’t imagine not doing or family traditions.

For example, I always set up Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. It’s something my girls know is going to happen. We spend the whole day decorating, and then we have the rest of the coming weeks to enjoy it.

You may want to go see lights or read a Christmas book every night leading up to the big day. It might be important that your family cook together or shop for the holidays together. Whatever the most important activities are, do those and let the rest of them fall away.

I guarantee they don’t matter anyway. The other non-traditional things you try to accomplish are things you won’t remember anyway.

This also brings up a good time to mention that if you don’t like some of the traditions you have, and you’ve been wanting to try some new activities or traditions, do it! But instead of trying to add them into the old traditions replace them instead.

Do Things that Truly Bring Joy to Your Holiday Season

Sometimes we get so bogged down with idealized expectations that even when we are doing holiday events and activities we find they aren’t bringing us joy. Not the kind of joy we should have during the holiday season.

The holiday season really should bring us all joy and we should be enjoying it even with the extra work that goes into it. So if you find yourself not enjoying it start thinking about the things you’re doing that aren’t bringing you joy.

For example, I love baking from scratch. I have fond memories of my mom, my sister and I baking copious amounts of cookies that we shared with family and friends. However, I also know my time is limited and it’s impossible for me to bake all my family recipes without my mom and sister, who live across the country, and still be sane.

So take the pressure off and only invest your time in doing things during the holiday season you truly love and that bring you joy.  This may mean not doing everything the way you envisioned.

Do you have methods that help you overcome holiday stress? Share in the comments below and let us know what you’re planning on doing this holiday season to truly enjoy it.

Don't stress out over preparing for the holidays! Overcome stress and enjoy the holidays with these tips.

Heather of Just Becoming Me contributor to Mom Motivation Mondays series at The Stay-at-Home Mom Survival GuideHeather lives in Florida with her husband, two girls and two pups. She is a lover of most things in life, too many to name here without scaring you, but a few include working out, learning new recipes, Pinterest, organizing (yes, it’s true!), home decor and learning to lead a more minimal and purposeful life.

She started Just Becoming Me as a venture to better understand herself and what will lead her towards a more fulfilling life. Her motto is: “We only have one life, and I want to learn to live mine in a way that gets me excited to jump out of bed.”

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