9 Ways To Handle Holiday Stress

Holidays are stressful enough for most adults, but if you are responsible for the care of an elderly relative, you might wonder how you can possibly get out to shop for gifts, find time to clean the house, and prepare for enjoyable dinners with the rest of your family. And you might feel that traveling to visit distant relatives or friends is completely out of the question.

Let’s Talk About Feeling Stressed!

Juggling your family commitments, caregiving and numerous other activities can cause stress. However, it’s the mindset, of the fear of overwork and failure, that can wreck your health far more than the actual challenges you face. Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., a health psychologist, speaker, and the author of The Upside Of Stress, councils people in high stress situations. She states that “while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case.”

In addition, Dr. McGonigal found that people who spent time caring for others showed absolutely no stress-related increase in mortality. Zero. In fact, caring created resilience! And, confiding in a friend or asking others for help are also ways to strengthen and replenish yourself.

But most importantly, by believing you are up to the challenges, you provide yourself with the first steps to having a great day, a great holiday season, and a great new year.

The harmful effects of stress on your health are not inevitable. How you think, and how you act, can transform your experience of stress.

Take the Stress Quiz to see where you stand.

For added benefit, plug-in these practical holiday stress-reducing ideas:


Holiday activities should be about enjoying, celebrating, and building relationships. Rather than getting caught up in all of the traditional details, decide what is most important to you or the people you will be with, and what will allow all of you to feel good. Then let go of those things that require extra time and money, but won’t really be missed. Always ask yourself this question: What do you want the the core memories of the holidays to be months or years from now? Most likely, they can all still be fond ones without any undue exertion and expense on your part.


Good tasting food and something festive and pretty go a long way to achieving a celebratory mood. Think about easy way to decorate; a table centerpiece, some candles, and a wreath on the door can be enough. When friendly conversation fills the room, no one should care about a more minimalist approach.


You may be short on time, but calling a friend and talking about your stress and concerns for just a few minutes will provide some relief. And at best, it will prompt you to see problem solving solutions while achieving a more positive and balanced perspective.


Instead of one person fixing a huge holiday meal, consider having everyone bring a dish– that way everyone gets to share the feast without any one person slaving over the stove. And for those who can’t, or don’t care to cook, they get to bring carryout!


You might think that holiday shopping, meals, and travel are putting too much of a strain on your budget for you to afford outside help. However, you can probably save more than just your mental well-being by calling in a professional caregiver, even if only for a few hours at a time here and there. Professional caregivers do more than “babysit”– they can also cook and do light housework in between helping care for your senior’s physical and emotional needs. Home and Hearth Caregivers personal care services can free you from having to do all of the cooking and cleaning yourself..  Home care can be a cost effective solution that reduces holiday stress and open up some added time and energy for you.


Consider getting help from others who share your situation. If you can meet a neighbor or coworker, who is also caring for a senior, the two of you might be able to get the seniors together for a visit while one of you takes a break away from the house for several hours.


Your gift shopping list, as well as the time needed to shop, can be reduced. Get your friends and family to agree that only kids under a certain age will receive presents this year. You can still give everyone else on your list a gift at some other time of the year. This has three benefits: it reduces the stress of buying everything by a single deadline and makes gifts throughout the year more surprising, appropriate or spontaneous. An added bonus; it might save you money because of off-season prices!


Decide in advance that whatever you plan may not work out, but that’s okay! An alternative will either present itself, or you’ll find a way to be happy no matter what.


Another way to reduce holiday stress is to allow yourself a set amount of time in which you stop thinking about what’s stressing you. Release your concerns and then go back to them in a few hours, or a day later. Doing this will give your mind a quiet and relaxed “space” that is conducive to problem solving.  Previously unconsidered ideas and solutions often surface with a new ease.

Yes, the holidays can be trying, but they can also be a source of warm memories for both you and your loved one in the months and years ahead. Know that in any season– including the holidays– Home & Hearth Caregivers are always here to take on tasks and lower your Holiday stress.

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