Combating Holiday Stress


As we head into the last two months of the year, we are also heading into the time of year that can bring high levels of stress to our family’s life.  Yes, more stress than usual. I’ve listed below some commons stressfully we all experience at this time of year. I’m sure many of them will strike a chord with you. Consider these solutions to reduce your stress, and, yes, some may be easier to do than others, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! 


You plan on having a “perfect” holiday! Your home will look just like the pictures in magazines, your meals will be flawless (and everyone will eat everything on their plates), you’ll go caroling, make it to church, etc.

SOLUTION: Relax – none of us is perfect! The holidays are about being with friends and family. Be yourself, enjoy the people around you, and live in the moment.


Scheduling too many activities during the holidays can put a big strain on the family.

SOLUTION: Don’t take on more than you can handle, learn to say “No,” and do not over commit yourself or your family. 


Traveling during the holidays (or having guests at your home) can cause extra stress due to traffic, lack of sleep, packing, and being in tight quarters. 

SOLUTION: Plan your trips in advance, and do not be afraid to limit the stay of your own guests. Expect there to be challenges along the way and remember that traveling can be hard on kids, too. Spread the holidays out and travel before or after the important days.


Un-wanted memories can resurface during the holidays and can unknowingly add stress. 

SOLUTION: Surround yourself and your children with safe, supportive people. Being with others can provide strength during trying times.


Not setting a budget and overspending adds stress and can ruin the holiday spirit.

SOLUTION: Your family and friends do not want you to go into debt. Buy smaller gifts, create handmade gifts…remember it’s the thought that counts!


With so many different cultures in our area, children can feel different, out of place, or confused if they’re not celebrating all the same holidays as their peers, and that can lead to family stress. 

SOLUTION: Talk to your child about all the holidays people celebrate and why. Spend time learning about other holidays so they understand them as well as your own.


During the busy holiday season, many people increase their use of alcohol and drugs, decrease sleep, and consume more food than usual.

SOLUTION: Take good care of yourself and your family! Get proper rest, eat healthy foods, and avoid alcohol or drugs.

Use these next few weeks to do a little pre-holiday planning.  It will change your perspective on the holidays and give you the confidence to handle whatever comes your way.


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Tracy is the Director of Programming and Partnerships for Darkness to Light, a child sexual abuse prevention organization. She grew up in northeast Ohio, and has lived in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Northern Virginia and has worked in the arts, in education, in non-profits and in ed tech. Her husband's job brought them to the Bay Area and there's no looking back! Tracy is mom to two trans teens who are just beginning their journey. Self-care includes pedicures, reading, cooking, crafting, and just being with her family. She also serves as Chair of the Board for the Attachment and Trauma Network, a national non-profit.


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