Overcoming Holiday Stress

December 12th, 2013

With less than two weeks until Christmas, some of us are feeling the mounting pressure that comes with shopping, family get togethers, and attempting to create the perfect holiday experience.

Guest blogger, Lea Anne Goods, has a few thoughts on the topic. Please read her thoughts below. You can also read these Ontario Psychological Association tips for further suggestions.


What is it about the holidays that makes us lose ourselves to the hype? Is it the abundance of glitter and the incessant Christmas musak that sucks us in and makes us think that it’s ok to spend beyond our means? Maybe it’s as simple as knowing that you’ll be buying gifts for all of your cousins again this year, not because you want to, but because that’s the way it’s always been. Perhaps you’re preparing menus for outrageous holiday parties, or sending your husband out into frigid temperatures to decorate the house, a la Clarke Griswald, because that’s how it’s done in your neighbourhood and you need to keep up with the Joneses? We need to rethink this! I say it’s time to stop feeling weighed down by the traditions of Christmas past and to start thinking outside of the perfectly wrapped holiday box.

Let’s start with a clarification of values. What sits well with you? Are you comfortable with a spending budget of $20, $50 or $200 for gifts for each of your kids? Are you more than happy to host a formal dinner for your family but would rather not have to plan and pay for a sit down meal for the neighbours? How about the out of control 17 family member gift exchange extravaganza that happens every year? Do you still want to participate? Whatever the case may be, decide well ahead of time and stick to your plan.


Here are a few things to think about:

Give yourself enough time. Time to plan, time to shop, time to say no and time to say yes!

Pay with cash. Nothing will encourage your generosity like the ease of sliding your credit card through the card reader.         Get an envelope, a sandwich bag, your favourite Louis Vuitton, whatever! Just have one place for your list, your holiday cash and your receipts.  This will keep you on track and help you to monitor your spending.

Remember that it’s ok to opt out of gift exchanges. You aren’t obligated to participate. If you want to, great! If not, that’s ok too.

Don’t feel locked into old traditions. Chances are, your cousins are also looking for an out. Be the one to facilitate the change. Recommend alternatives, such as handmade presents for the crafty, creative people in your family


Worried about how your friends and family will react? Well, that’s up to them. As for you, you’ll be spending your holidays feeling good about the choices you’ve made and the new traditions you’ve begun. No matter what you decide to spend, give, host or create, knowing that it all came from a place of love and thoughtfulness, and not obligation, is a gift not only to those around you but also to yourself. I mean really, even the Grinch was able to figure out that it’s about more than the packages, boxes and bags. Oh, and if your cousin Mike gets his knickers in a twist because he’s not going to get his yearly gift card, offer him a coupon for the Biggest Bear Hug Ever!!! He’ll likely opt out next year too.








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One in five Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.


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