How to Quiet Your Inner Grinch This Holiday Season


holiday stress

Did you guys know that the Grinch doesn’t live in Whoville? He actually resides deep down inside each one of us, and he rears his mean, grumpy head whenever he is triggered by holiday stress.

I witness this transformation on the daily. Today at Costco, people were honking and fighting over a parking spot that wasn’t even that close to the entrance. Yesterday I watched as a woman chewed out the Target salesperson (who looked like a teenager, honestly) because she wasn’t ringing her up fast enough. At the stoplight last week I observed a woman crying in her car, silently wiping tears from her cheeks.

Why do we let the holidays become so stressful? It’s so easy to get caught up in all the things we “should” be doing, we often forget the true meaning of Christmas, and instead see it as another inevitable reason for stress, anger, resentment, and even hostility.

Well, I’m bravely choosing to forgo all that woe this year. 2018 has been stressful enough, and quite honestly I just don’t have the bandwidth for stress anymore. So here’s how I’m making this an easy, Gringe-free holiday season:

1 | Pick a word of intention for your holiday season and use that to guide your choices. Joyful, peaceful, and calm are words that come to mind. If the decision at hand doesn’t connect with that intention, then pass on it and move on.

2 | Bring prepared platters to parties. Yes, you heard me right. For my daughter’s holiday show this year, I brought a Costco platter of sandwiches. For the neighborhood holiday party? A bagged salad. Was I tempted to go all out to show off my baking skills and bring something fancier? You betcha. But instead, I chose to simplify (my word of intention this season). I was one of the most relaxed parents at the party this year, and I enjoyed every second of it.

3 | Say No. A lot. I turned down lots of opportunities for “holiday cheer” this year. And I don’t regret it for one second. Last weekend my husband and I actually looked at each other and said, shouldn’t we be doing something right now? We had carved out an entire weekend of quiet. No parties. No shopping. No shows. It felt a little strange, but it was also wonderful.

4 | Prioritize what’s important. This does take some forethought. Right after Thanksgiving, we sat down and decided what things were really important to do this year, and what things we could pass on. And then we stuck to it. For us, it was baking holiday favorites and going to see Christmas lights. Period. I have been calmer and more present this year than ever before.

5 | Stop using the word “perfect.” There was nothing perfect about the birth of Jesus (which is kinda what it’s all about, remember?) so why should we expect our celebration to be any different? See #1 above.

6 | One and done. This year I’m only sending one gift per person to our long-distance family. It may Scrooge-likee-like, but it’s made for a lot less time staring at Amazon, endless trips to the mall, and agonizing over decisions. Plus it follows my intention of minimalism.

7 | Give gift cards as gifts. If I didn’t have a great idea for someone, I gave them a gift card and didn’t look back. Everyone loves cash, and it’s the thought that counts, right?

8 | Take deep breaths. I never ever want to be like that woman at Target, yelling at someone for something outside of their control. So if I do feel the stress rising, I stop myself and take 10 deep breaths. I actually use “stoplight meditation” quite regularly, taking a minute at a stop light to reset myself and my priorities.

9 | Give yourself extra time. This time of year, traffic is ALWAYS worse. Even when we think traffic in the Bay Area can’t possibly be any more miserable, we quickly remember that the holiday season brings more drivers. Be sure to pad in extra time so that you aren’t stressed by running late.

10| Buy a scented candle. You might laugh about this one, but after I light my Christmas-tree scented candle, I take a deep breath in and feel my shoulders relax. It sets the tone for the day, and gives your home a nice, cozy feel.

I hope you use these suggestions to remind yourself what your true goals are for this holiday season, and hopefully, most importantly of all, you use the time to spend it with the ones you love.


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Meredith is a transplant to the Bay Area and has fallen in love with the weather, gorgeous scenery, and plethora of local wineries. A wife and mother of two, she works part-time as a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. She hails from Texas, where she attended the University of Texas and will always bleed orange. She then moved to Washington DC to attend Georgetown's School of Medicine, where she fell in love with her future husband, a fellow student, and has been happily married for almost a decade. She and her husband lived in Cincinnati, Ohio for several years for their medical training and found it the perfect place to start a family. She relocated to the Bay Area a few years ago and has quickly adapted to West Coast living. Meredith enjoys the balance of part-time working and full-time parenting and loves to write about this ongoing struggle. In her persistent drive to find more "me time", she actively pursues her interests in reading, running, soccer, baking, and wine tasting.



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