Grit & Soul Blog

How to Stop Holiday Stress Before It Starts

I pull up to the ATM, lower my window and can’t quite reach the slot for my debit card. Instead of unbuckling my seat belt, I reach—and then reach a tiny bit further. And that’s when I feel something pop down the right side of my body.

I bet you’ve done this too. Maybe you’ve strained your back moving a sofa or suffered shin splints from over-training for a race.

We all do it. We overextend and end up hurting ourselves.

We overextend in other ways too—especially during the holiday season.

We “have to” buy too may gifts, say “yes” to too many gatherings (Zoom and in person), or incur credit card debt that takes the rest of the year to pay off.

There’s a cascading effect from all of these “have to” and “yeses.”

It goes like this:

We overextend We feel overwhelmed → This leads to stress → Which robs us of joy.

Sound familiar?

Well, now that Thanksgiving has passed, some might say we’re entering the season of joy.

But are we? Are you?

Especially in this season, with additional COVID-19 challenges, you might be feeling your stress creeping up on you.

Maybe you’re energized by all the decorating, shopping, and baking you add to your plate for the holidays.

But, if you’re already starting to feel holiday stress, now is a good time to stop and ask yourself a few questions:

  • In what ways am I overextending myself?
  • What might I do less of, so I feel more joy?
  • What obligations are stealing my happiness?
  • What new traditions would help me feel connected to loved ones I can’t safely see?
  • What choices might help me feel calmer?

Here are few ideas to consider:

  • Schedule family and friend Zoom gatherings in advance, so you have something to look forward to.
  • Have a family gift exchange (rather than buying a gift for each person).
  • Send New Year’s Cards instead of Holiday Cards (gives you more time).
  • Set a holiday budget (and stick to it).
  • Give yourself permission to say no to others and “yes” to yourself.

And one of the best ways to feel less stressed is to truly weigh the value and benefit to your wellness for each thing you choose to take on. Yes, even in this time of giving and generosity, I’m suggesting you pay attention to yourself first. Being a little selfish, by considering your well being, will ground you so you can be more present and loving for everyone else.

So, for each little and big thing that’s adding stress to your holidays ask yourself this question: Is this something I want to do? Will this add more joy to my life?

We can stop our holiday stress before it starts when we catch ourselves becoming overwhelmed, broke, and joyless and instead stop overextending ourselves and start saying “yes” to the things that matter most.


For more insightful advice from Jamie, please visit:


The Less Stress Coach


Less Stress Business: A Guide to Hiring, Coaching, and Leading Great Employees

Less Stree Life: How I Went from Crazed to Calm and You Can Too



Is a Stress-Free Life Possible? 

If You Choose to Get Better at Stress – I Guarantee You Can


G&S Blog



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