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The holiday season, with its festive cheer and gatherings, can also be a time of overwhelming demands — from shopping and decorating to attending social events and hosting family gatherings. As a life coach, I’ve worked with many clients on strategies to manage time and stress during this busy season. Here are ways you can find balance and enjoy a stress-free Christmas.

Understanding the Holiday Stress

Before diving into solutions, it’s important to recognise why the holidays can be stressful. There’s often a huge emotional, financial, and physical toll that the festive season can take. Acknowledging this is the first step in managing it effectively.

1. Set Realistic Expectations

The image of a perfect holiday can set us up for disappointment. It’s crucial to set realistic expectations. Not everything will go as planned, and that’s okay. Prioritize what’s truly important to you and your family, and be willing to let go of less critical aspects.

2. Plan Ahead

Procrastination can amplify holiday stress. Start planning early. Make a list of all that needs to be done, and start ticking off tasks well before the holiday rush. This might include shopping for gifts, planning meals, or arranging travel. Early planning can significantly reduce last-minute stress.

3. Delegate Responsibilities

You don’t have to do everything yourself. Delegate tasks to family members or co-workers when preparing for holiday events. It not only lessens your load but also involves others in the festive preparations, making it more of a communal effort.

4. Set a Budget

Financial stress is a significant aspect of holiday anxiety. Set a realistic budget for gifts, food, and other expenses, and stick to it. Remember, the spirit of the season is not measured by the price of your gifts.

5. Take Time for Yourself

In the hustle of the season, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Allocate time for activities that relax and rejuvenate you, be it a quiet reading hour, a walk, or a bubble bath. Self-care is not selfish; it’s essential.

6. Practice Mindfulness and Gratitude

Mindfulness helps in staying grounded and present amidst the chaos. Take a few minutes each day to meditate or just breathe deeply. Practising gratitude can also shift your perspective from stress to appreciation of the joyous moments.

7. Learn to Say No

You don’t have to attend every social event or meet every demand placed on you. It’s okay to say no. Prioritising your commitments based on what brings you the most joy is not just acceptable; it’s necessary for maintaining your mental health.

8. Embrace Imperfection

Perfection is a myth, especially during the holidays. Embrace the imperfections in your decorations, your meals, and your gatherings. Often, it’s the unplanned moments that become the most cherished memories.

9. Maintain Healthy Habits

Don’t let the holiday season derail your healthy habits. Continue to eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep. Maintaining these routines can provide the energy and mental clarity needed to navigate the busy season.

10. Create New Traditions

If old traditions cause stress or are no longer feasible, create new ones. This could be as simple as a movie night with family or a quiet dinner with close friends. New traditions can bring fresh joy and reduce pressure.

11. Connect Meaningfully with Others

The essence of the holidays is connection. Focus on creating meaningful interactions with your loved ones. Deep, genuine connections can be more fulfilling than any festive activity or tradition.

12. Manage Time Effectively

Use time management techniques like setting specific times for shopping, cooking, or decorating. Avoid the trap of multi-tasking, which can lead to burnout. Focus on one task at a time.

13. Remember the Reason for the Season

Amidst the commercialisation, remember the true reason for the season. Whether it’s about religious beliefs, family time, or a period of reflection and gratitude, keeping this in mind can help you stay centred and calm.

14. Seek Support When Needed

If you feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to seek support. Talking to a friend, family member, or a professional can provide relief and perspective.

15. Reflect and Adjust as Needed

Take time to reflect on what’s working and what’s not. If you find certain aspects of your holiday plans causing undue stress, be willing to adjust. Flexibility can be a significant stress reliever.


The holidays don’t have to be perfect to be enjoyable. By setting realistic expectations, planning ahead, and taking care of your mental and physical health, you can find balance and joy during this festive season. Remember, the best holiday memories are often about the love and warmth shared, not the flawless execution of events. Embrace the season with a heart full of gratitude, and you’ll find the peace and joy that the holidays are.