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5 Tips To Beat The Holiday Stress & Find More Joy This Season

November 5, 2023

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Hello, I'm Jen
As a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization® (CPO-CD®), I am uniquely qualified with the knowledge and experience to help you with ADHD issues, hoarding, chronic disorganization, and aging. 

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The days are shorter, the holidays are approaching, and the stress? Well, it’s increasing. 

We know this time of year can bring up mixed emotions, present many challenges, and dump on a pile of overwhelm along with it. 

As beautiful and joyous as this time of year can be, it’s also the busiest time for marketing, and along with that comes feelings of needing to do more…be more…have more. 

Time to get out the Christmas tree. And the lights! And buy the gifts. Wait, have you thought about Thanksgiving dinner yet?”…

It’s a lot. Especially when you’re already battling overwhelm to begin with. 

Simply put, the holidays can be stressful. 

But before we go any further, I want you to know that you’re not alone in this. In fact, it’s very common to feel this way. 

What is holiday stress, and is it normal?

Holiday stress is a perfect storm of numerous stressors that come together in an overwhelming manner. 

These stressors often stem from the aspects of life that make up the metaphor SHiFT– our trademarked approach to chronic disorganization.

These areas of life are already significantly impacted by chronic disorganization, and the holidays add another layer to that.  

  • SOCIAL – Family/relationship conflict or the stress of arranging gatherings.
  • HEALTH – It’s the time of year that can be tough to stay on track with fitness and nutrition goals, and it carries many emotional challenges whether it be due to grief, loss, or loneliness.
  • i AM DESERVING – It can be a struggle to keep up with the demands of the holidays, and feelings of low self-worth can creep in more than normal. 
  • FINANCES – Financial strain increases during the holidays due to gifts, travel, food, and decor.
  • TIME – It’s easy to get sucked into spending too much time on things we feel obligated to do, rather than on the things that bring us joy.

It’s tough to navigate the holidays feelings this way.

But it’s not just you.

A survey by Healthline showed that over half of respondents reported feeling heightened levels of stress during the holidays. It went further to explain that the set of mental skills needed to switch from task to task and get things done – known as set-shifting – is negatively impacted due to the demands of the holidays. 

Simply put, your brain goes into overdrive this time of year, and it can be particularly overwhelming. 

The good news? It’s temporary, and there are effective ways to combat those stressful feelings and experience more joy this year. 

How to beat the holiday stress

If you’ve been following along with us, you know we take pride in working with our clients on a meaningful level, working compassionately to SHiFT their lives from fragmentation to wholeness, so we’d like to share some stress-busting tips as it relates to the SHiFT Method and improving your quality of life. 

1. Shift your Social expectations.

The holidays come along with many expectations – most of which we place upon ourselves. 

The truth is, you don’t have to do it all. 

This time of year is filled with traditions, and many of us go to great lengths in an effort to keep them alive – which is great! Traditions are wonderful. 

But a lot of times, the planning can put too much unwanted pressure upon us, and we need to take time to decide what matters most. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the thought of keeping up with all of the plans this season, take some time to list out your top 1 or 2 social happenings that you want to commit to, and let the rest go. 

Your social wellness is a critical component of your quality of life, but sometimes less is more meaningful. Remember that this time of year can be beautiful and joyous when we focus on living in each moment. 

💭Perspective shift:

Still feeling guilty about not being able to fit it all in? Try to remember that everyone else around you is likely feeling a similar sense of overwhelm. They are all so busy in their thoughts of the season – they won’t notice what’s not getting checked off of your own list. Take a deep breath, and know that you are enough as you are, showing up with what you can, when you can. 

2. Put your Health first.

I emphasize this one a lot, because it’s so important – it encompasses your entire being. And at a time of high stress and many indulgences, it’s critical that you prioritize your physical and mental health through nutrition and exercise or other practices such as meditation and mindfulness. 

Now I know these things are difficult to implement on a normal day let alone during the holidays, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. 

Focus on keeping it simple. 

Start your day with 12 oz of water, and stay hydrated throughout the day.

Don’t worry so much about the treats – enjoy and savor them – just focus on a nourishing balance. 

Make time for a walk each day. Being inside surrounded by clutter and weighed down by the mental load of your to-do lists can become a paralyzing trap. The next time you catch yourself reeling over the chaos, take it outside, especially when you don’t want to. Even a 15 minute walk in the fresh air can boost your endorphins and give your mindset a reset. 

💭Perspective shift:

Does it feel too hard to take care of yourself? Sometimes these seemingly simple modalities of self-care can be overwhelming. Pick 1 healthy thing you can do for yourself each day this month, and commit to it – even if it’s just drinking 1 glass of water before bed. Sticking to this one thing will build up your trust with yourself, and over time, it will become easier to add in more. 

If it still feels too hard to do, try looking at it from an “able” viewpoint. Tell yourself, “I am able to make the choice to take care of my health”… “I have an able body that allows me to get outside and move”. Gratitude makes waves in the world of motivation. 

3. Remember… “i am deserving”.

This one is huge, so I’m going to say it loud – “YOU ARE DESERVING”. 

You can take a break. 

You can set boundaries, and you can say “no” to things.

You can do less this holiday season, and you’re still going to be deserving.  

💭Perspective shift:

Think of someone you love in their worst moment, and imagine how they feel. Imagine what you would say to them – to make them believe that they matter despite their shortcomings. Now speak to yourself in that same way. We are all deserving of compassion, and we are all deserving of a wholesome life. 

4. Reprioritize your Finances.

This is a tough one this time of year, especially when you worry about trying to keep everyone happy. Overspending on gifts, decor, and food…the marketing world works its magic, painting a picture of what we think the holidays should be, and it’s easy to get sucked into it. 

This time of year can also expose a void you may feel – a loneliness or a longing…whatever it may be, overspending is a common coping mechanism to fill that void. 

Being mindful of this is challenging, but take some time to list out your priorities and pause to ask yourself the meaning behind each purchase you make. 

💭Perspective shift:

Prioritize needs over wants, and remember that a gift’s meaningfulness is measured by the thought put into it – not the value. If you think back 5 or 10 years, do you have a more clear memory of the specific gifts you received, or of the feelings and memories you made with the people around you? It’s very likely that the best memories were made simply by presence, not presents.

5. Evaluate how you spend your Time.

Time. We already don’t have enough of it. Add on the holiday errands and it’s enough to send you into a tailspin. 

But your time is precious, and you get to decide how you spend it. 

Worried about making the perfect Thanksgiving meal? Rather than spending hours planning the execution of the most elaborate recipes because you feel like you should, focus on creating a memory by making a simplified version with someone close to you. 

Don’t have time to make Christmas cards this year? Simply make a social media post instead, and call those closest to you for a more personalized holiday greeting. 

By letting go of some of the unnecessary tasks, you give yourself time for the sweeter things in life. It just takes a little prioritizing. 

 💭Perspective shift:

Of course you want to be able to get everything done and more, but the amount of time you have in a day will never change. Don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed by it. Tackle the non-negotiable things first, and prioritize the things that matter most. Remember this quote by Henry David Thoreau – “It’s not enough to be busy…the question is: what are we busy about?” 

The big picture.

The holidays should be joyous, and I truly want that for you this season. 

Remember that we’re all navigating our own struggles, and you don’t need to do it alone. 

No matter where you are in your journey, do your best to manage your stress over the next couple of months, and make the most of where you’re at. 

And if the overwhelm is just too much, I’m here to chat about how we can help you take charge of your space – whenever you’re ready. 

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