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Strategies for a Stress-Free, Joyous Holiday Season

Strategies for a Stress-Free, Joyous Holiday Season

The holidays can be a stressful time in a typical year. But how on earth do we pile on all the additional factors that 2020 brings?

Too often we get ourselves so busy that we live day-to-day just putting out fires. Life passes us by. We become so overwhelmed with keeping up and “making things happen,” that we struggle to enjoy the moments, including holidays.

There is even sometimes a feeling of relief once it’s all done and over. That’s sad! How did something that is supposed to be so joyful become such a source of stress?

I am challenging you this year to take a different approach. Make this the year you grab hold of the reins and you make the holiday season what you want it to be. A lot of unexpected events have felt unpredictable and out of our control in 2020, but let’s plan ahead, be mindful, and be intentional. If you have suffered a major loss this year (death, divorce, job), this is going to be especially important for you.

Start with the end result. When you think about waking up Jan. 1, how do you want to describe your 2020 holiday season? Name three adjectives you would like to use to describe your ideal holiday season. Try not to rule adjectives out just because you don’t believe they’re possible. Remove all of the logistics to give yourself permission to imagine how you want to be able to describe your holiday. Tap into the ideal emotions you would like to feel when you recall the season a month or year from now.

When you look at those three adjectives, consider why they are so important to you. They likely are related to past experiences, positive or negative. I hope they highlight for you what you value most about your holiday. Use this purpose to help you stay focused on what you are trying to accomplish.

Next, consider roadblocks. What do you predict would prevent you from having your ideal experience? It might be your habits (taking on too much), grief, lack of self-care, or your struggle to ask for help. For each roadblock, write down what action steps you can take to prevent this factor from spoiling your holiday.

This last step can be a challenge. If you struggle to recognize any choices or action steps you can take to improve a situation, ask a loved one to help you. Sometimes people who aren’t emotionally in the challenge themselves can see things you might not be able to. 

You don’t have to do this perfectly for it to be a success. If you have lost a loved one and are coping with grief, this might not be the most joyful holiday for you as your heart is still mending. But using the strategies above can help you find moments of joy and work toward cherishing past traditions in addition to starting new ones.

Most importantly, be compassionate to yourself this holiday and give yourself permission not to do more than what is healthy for you mentally, emotionally, and physically.


Kristin Woodling, a licensed mental health counselor and certified marriage and family therapist, owns Pamper Your Mind, LLC in Satellite Beach. She is devoted to providing a confidential and elite therapeutic experience to professional women seeking healing, clarity, and balanced lifestyle for optimal health.


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