Empathy, Leaders

Dealing With Holiday Stress

Dealing With Holiday Stress

The holidays are supposed to be a fun and relaxing time for everyone. We look forward to this time of year starting at around October. Some even sooner. But the holiday season brings along stress that just ruins it for us. Dealing with holiday stress isn’t easy. It’s not the same work stress that we’re familiar with and are prepared to handle. Holiday stress is entirely different and learning how to deal with holiday stress is important in keeping your sanity.


We all deal with stress during the year. There are pressure to perform and deliver all year long. Most of us have become pretty good at handling these types of stress. But dealing with holiday stress is different. The source of the stress are different and how to deal with it also requires a different approach. In order to be in a good place to deal with this holiday stress, you must be prepared for it. The best way to be prepared for it is to expect it to come. Believe me, it’s coming. Here are some stressful situation that typically occur during the holidays.


  • Family conflicts – The holiday season bring us closer with our families. We have more time with them than we normally do during the year. That also means we have to deal with them more as well. And they with us. This means that it is natural to expect conflicts to occur. We may find that we have less conflicts with our family, and they have less with each other, during the year. That’s due to the fact that we all have less time with each other during the year. Now that we are together more, conflicts is natural to occur.

  • Unfamiliar environment – Understand that this is unfamiliar territory for everyone. Being in the same space together for an extended period of time is not something that happens during the year. Normally you spend most of your time at work. So does your spouse. And your children are in school spending time with their friends and their own social environment. Now, you’re all together under one roof for a long time. You may also have extended families joining you, making the situation even more abnormal. Be aware of this and practice empathy when you recognize someone is struggling to deal with this strange environment. You can read more about Empathy and how to practice it here.

  • Travel– If you travel during the holidays, like many families do, you must expect travel stress to happen. Travel is difficult normally. But traveling during the holiday season is so much worse. Unpredictable weather may cause delays or even cancelation of your flights. You may be traveling with children who are difficult to control. Or you may be near families who are traveling with children who are difficult to control. Lines will be longer. Wait time will be increased. Expect this to happen so that you’re not caught off guard.

  • Gifts– Buying gifts for loved ones isn’t always easy. If you have children who knows exactly what they want and you have the resources to get it for them, which makes it a bit easier. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes you don’t know what they want. And sometimes, you can’t afford to get them what they want. That can bring great stress to anyone. Read my thoughts and suggestions on getting gifts here. I hope it will bring some peace to your life.

  • Expectations– What others expects from us sometimes is out of our control. During the holidays, your family may expect you to do things that you didn’t commit to nor are even aware of. Assumptions are sometimes just made and it can create quite a bit of pressure and stress for you to fulfill. Understand that there will be some expectations from you that may be even unreasonable. Communicate, empathize and work your way through it.

  • Work– This is the time of year where we’re all supposed to be able to shut down and take some time away from work. But sometimes this is not the case. There may be some work that didn’t get finished and extends into our days off. Or there may just be an unexpected work emergency that just popped up. This is something that’s not uncommon. Understand and expect that this could occur to you. Do be caught off guard.

While this time of year should be joyous, we have to prepare ourselves for the stress to come.  Here are some suggestions from sources I recommend to help you deal with the stress.


My personal recommendation for you is to make sure you recover.  Plan time to recover from the holidays.  If at all possible, end your holiday with your families and loved ones a couple of days before you have to return to work.  Give yourself the time and space to gather yourself so that you’re fully prepared to start the New Year.  Happy Holidays!!!!






Photo by:Ketut Subiyanto

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