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Carreer Junction by Michele Majul-IbarraDe-stress for the holidays

by Michele Majul-Ibarra

Now that Black Friday has come and gone, I bet many of you are feeling the demands of the holiday season. Planning for the preparation of elaborate family feasts and well-thought-out gifts are supposed to be exciting and fun. However, for many people the thought of preparing for the holidays can trigger stress and anxiety.

According to the 2021 study by American Psychiatric Association, thinking about the upcoming holiday season, adults were most likely to be worried about gifts. Around two in five adults worried about affording (46 per cent) and finding holiday gifts (40 per cent). Forty percent of healthcare workers were particularly stressed about the holiday season and 37 per cent of administrative and office workers were anxious about working long hours in the upcoming holiday season. In addition, 47 per cent of retail workers and 54 per cent of healthcare workers said that their stress level increased during the holiday season.

It’s ok to say no

Setting boundaries is essential for our mental health. If you are not able to participate in a particular tradition or activity due to demands on your time, it is ok to say no. Respecting your boundaries can take the pressure off and ease stress.

Take time to recharge

Having all your family members packed into one house for days on end can sometimes be a little overwhelming. Of course, this may cause added stress, especially if you have travelled miles to see your family. Remember that the holiday season is only once a year. You can consider self-care strategies during the holidays such as going for a walk, going to the gym, or listening to music. Prioritizing self-care and being intentional about it can make a big difference in the busiest of seasons.

Be realistic

Some people who cook like to make elaborate meals. Buying a store-bought dessert or turkey is not going to offend your guests. Holidays are about gathering and spending time with your loved ones, not cook-offs or bake-offs.

Set a budget

Holiday spending can be very stressful. Review your finances in advance and plan accordingly for gifts and/or hosting any get-togethers. Once you have a budget, you can feel comfortable with spending. A budgeting system can be helpful to stay on track of your holiday expense.

American Psychiatric Association President Rebecca W. Brendel, MD, JD stated in light of a poll they did in 2022, “This is a busy time of year for many people, and it’s common to put a lot of expectations on ourselves during the holidays. We can all benefit by enjoying moments that bring meaning and belonging, but those times are different for each of us. It’s also okay to opt out of some or all events if they bring more stress or distress than joy. There is no one right way to spend the holiday time of year.”

If in fact you are one of those people who dread the holidays due to pressure and stress, keep in mind that it is meant to be the most wonderful time of the year (quite literally). It is important to find ways to help yourself manage holiday stress in order to make the best out of the season.


This article is intended for information purposes only and not to be considered as professional advice.

Michele Majul-Ibarra, IPMA-ACP holds an Advanced Certified HR Professional Designation with the International Personnel Management Association. She is a Senior HR Consultant in the public sector.

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