It’s holiday season, and although I love so many things about the holidays, it can be pretty stressful as well. I have talked to so many people who experience stress, overwhelm, and guilt instead of joy, love, and peace during the holiday season, and I want to change that.

There’s shopping to do, decorating to do, parties to plan, and parties to attend…

There’s deciding who to buy for, how much to spend, who’s invited, who’s not…

The list of responsibilities and obligations can feel endless, and the time commitment can be so exhausting and overwhelming!

And, of course, my favorite holiday attraction… those family members, colleagues, or friends who like to pick on you, point out your flaws, or criticize your life choices (you know what I mean). They make holiday gatherings filled with anxiety, because you feel as if armor is your necessary attire, in order to prepare for battle to defend your honor!

The holidays are a busy and stressful time for many people, myself included. You are not alone if you feel this way.

Here are five tips to decrease the stress through the holiday season:

#1 Choose how you want to feel.

How you feel is always a choice. You have the ability to choose how you feel in any moment. Choose joy, peace, love, and gratitude. Even amidst less than desirable circumstances, you can choose how you will react. Knowing you are in control of your reactions fosters feelings of power and control.

#2 Admit you can’t do it all, and you don’t have to.

Often times we are invited to what feels like 1,342,547 holiday events. No one can force you to attend them all, because again, that is your choice. Assess your party options, and decide what events, gathering, and parties are most important to you. What choices will have the most people who are important to you in attendance? You don’t have to go to them all just because you are invited. Look at it as a compliment! You are soooo incredible that many people wanted to put you on their invite list. It’s a good thing and a compliment, but attendance is optional. Your time is your most precious resource that you can never get back, so choose how you spend your time (especially around the holidays). It can be as simple as, “Thank you so much for the invite, but I have a prior obligation already. I appreciate your thinking of me. Happy holidays to you and your family!” Your prior obligation can be your need to spend time at home with your partner and your children. You don’t need to share the details. It’s your life and your holiday schedule. Make it work for you.

#3 You are only obligated to buy if you say you are: Buy what you want for family, friends, and colleagues.

I have to talk about money for a moment because let’s be honest, the holiday season can put a dent in your bank account, and I have heard multiple times how the spending aspect of the holiday season is stressful for so many people. You aren’t obligated to spend X number of dollars on X number of people. You don’t have to buy a present for every person that you have ever encountered. You don’t have to buy for every child in your son’s class, every coworker on your team, every family member and every family member that is twice removed… STOP.

Here are some ideas to help your bank account if that is a HUGE stressor in your life:

1. Make a list of people that you think you need to buy for. Then ask yourself these questions: Have I talked to them in the last month? If I had the best or worst day of my life, would they be one of the 5 people I would call? Do they actually know me, support me, or love me? Use your answers to gauge whether you NEED to buy for them or not. Some relationships can be more challenging to gauge, but most aren’t.

2. Exchange with family through a drawing. Put a higher dollar amount on ONE gift, and everyone buys for ONE person, not everyone. Chances are everyone will get something they actually want and you are only buying for ONE person instead of a bunch. This is especially helpful for those who have a very large family.

3. I read this recently and I love it… Buy people experiences. Lunch with me on the date of your choice, dinner and a movie, painting with a twist class together, a trip to a theatre show or a museum, a picnic lunch at the park, etc… Experiences are what people remember. Use your GIFT to CREATE SOME EVERLASTING MEMORIES.

#4 Avoid or minimize contact with negative people.

When it comes to those family members, colleagues, or friends who like to pick on you, point out your flaws, or criticize your life choices, avoid them to the best of your ability OR keep the conversation to a minimum. You don’t have to sit right next to your uncle who picks on you at family dinners. You don’t have to congregate with the group at the bar that includes your coworker who puts you down all the time. You can say hello and choose to converse with someone else. If you find yourself stuck in a negative conversation, excuse yourself politely, or change the subject completely and ask them a question that will derail their focus off of you.

Share with me in the comments what you will do to tackle the holiday stress.

Happy holidays to you and your family and friends!


  • Sara Cruz

    MS / Certified High Performance Coach / Owner of Sara Cruz Coaching / Speaker / Kindness Advocate

    My business cards say Certified High Performance Coach, but I am not your average coach. I help burnt out and frustrated executives and business owners to establish absolute clarity around the life they want, discover the addictive patterns and behaviors that are keeping them stuck, and learn a step by step process to change their behaviors and create new habits, so they can achieve a vibrant career and an extraordinary life. BE more. ACHIEVE more. GIVE more. LIVE more. Connect with me at: [email protected]