It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...or is it?


A study by Healthline found that when it comes to health and finances, not only do 44% of people think the holidays are “somewhat stressful”...

18% of them classified them as “very stressful”!

The holidays can be the "most wonderful time of the year"...but they can also be the most stressful. 

I have to confess...I used to hate the holiday season. Holidays meant I had to DO more and thus, was under MORE STRESS.

I wanted to make everything absolutely PERFECT for EVERYONE.

I was overwhelmed with decorating, cooking, purchasing gifts, programs and obligations at church and school...AND I was overwhelmed with the guilt that comes with knowing that all of these things aren't what the holidays are about. 

Let's face it...I was a total grump! Not a great attitude for someone who was supposed to be celebrating the miracle of the incarnation, I know! 

I blamed my bad attitude on the commercialism of the season. But the truth is I had lost sight of the meaning behind the season. 

So, after a bit of introspection I decided to make a plan to celebrate the holiday season by only doing things that brought me joy and felt meaningful. I allowed myself to let go of the things that made me feel anxious or stressed.

Here are the changes I've made that have reduced my holiday stress:

Stress-free traditions - I've stopped feeling guilty about not decorating a tree. In my opinion, the holiday isn't about a tree...and putting up and taking down a tree each year filled me with dread. I developed my own tradition of decorating on a smaller scale. Now I enjoy the few festive items we put out. 

Stress-free cooking - I don't like to bake, so I no longer try to make all the cookies, pies, cakes, and candies! I also don't pressure myself to prepare a huge holiday meal...alone. My family and friends all contribute to the holiday meal. Everyone gets a chance to contribute to the work...and to get the glory of a fabulous feast!

Stress-free gifting - As a family, we've decided to do a simple gift exchange. Each Thanksgiving we draw names and we give one gift to the person we chose. It's been really fun to see the creative and thoughtful results of this practice. Plus, we're teaching the next generation that mountains of gifts aren't the only reason for the season. 

Here's my gift to you this holiday season...A strategy to reduce your holiday stress.

What it comes down to is keeping things simple by identifying the things that bring you joy, coming up with ways to manage obligations better, and learning how to "say no" to things that add stress to your plate.

  1. Ask yourself WHY you are doing something. Is it a tradition? Is it an expectation, an obligation, or a joy? 
  2. Make a list of everything you DO for the holidays and then categorize this list by things you love, things you like, things you feel neutral about, and things you dislike.
  3. For those activities you dislike, decide if you can eliminate them completely or modify them. I eliminated the tree, but I incorporated some festive décor that gave me JOY. If they are obligations that you can't eliminate, think about how you can enlist help in getting them done. I enlisted help from the family for putting together the big holiday meals. 
  4. Do the same for the things you feel neutral about. And then do the same with the things you like.
  5. You should be left with the things you LOVE to do and a few things that are important or obligations you can't avoid. 
  6. Put your efforts into these things that remain - the things that bring you, or those that you love, JOY, and let go of the other things without guilt. 

How about you? What obligation or expectation are you going to LET GO of this year so that you can focus on what's really important about the season?

I'd love to hear your results or your feedback!

Here’s to less stress and more of what really matters!

Make it an amazing day,

Sheila Gravely


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