Although it’s virtually impossible to eliminate all holiday stress, the following tips can help prevent some fatigue and anxiety.

Every Christmas I feel the pressure to make the holiday memorable for my children and I must admit by December 25th, I am exhausted. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way; not balancing self-care and family responsibilities can actually create “parent burnout”. In fact, a recent study found out that parents, especially mothers, can face burnout just like first responders.

How Can Moms Avoid Holiday Burnout?

In the holiday season, moms are notorious for putting others first and neglecting their own self-care, which in turn leads to burnout. Per the American Psychological Association, holiday stress is often more intense for moms since they take on most of the workload to create a magical holiday experience for their family including sacrificing, sleep, exercise, or healthy eating to take care of all the holiday tasks. 

Although it’s virtually impossible to eliminate all holiday stress, the following tips can help prevent some fatigue and anxiety.

10 Tips to Prevent Holiday Stress

  1. Embrace Your Sadness
    If there has been a recent life event that has caused a change in your normal holiday traditions, it’s okay to feel sad or even angry. Take the time to express your feelings with people who can be supportive.
  2. Let Perfection Go
    Families change and grow; traditions and rituals don’t always have to be the same year after year. Hold onto the one you love but be open to letting some traditions go so you can focus on quality versus quantity.
  3. Leave the Therapy Session to the Professionals
    Try to be more empathetic and accepting to those you are sharing the holiday season with. The holidays are not the time to rehash old arguments or to fix someone you may feel is broken. The family drama will still be there after the holidays.
  4. Set a Schedule for Must-Do Events
    If there are certain events that you feel are mandatory for your holiday celebration, make time to incorporate them. If it’s baking a special dessert or dish, make sure you allocate time to grocery shop for ingredients and set aside a day to bake rather than trying to multi-task these additional tasks into an already full day.
  5. Say NO to Others So You Can Say Yes to YOU
    Trying to please everyone will leave you with feeling resentful and overwhelmed this holiday season. It’s okay to say no to some requests for your time. Consider putting a limit on how many nights you dedicate to family fun.
  6. Keep Health Top of Mind
    It’s easy for the holidays to be a free-for-all of overindulgence. Don’t have a stress or guilt hangover the next day. The Mayo Clinic offers these healthy suggestions: Eat a healthy snack before holiday parties so you don’t arrive starving and overdo the sweets, cheese or drinks. Get plenty of sleep. Make regular physical activity part of each day.
  7. Take Time to Unplug
    Schedule some “me time” to take a break from the holiday distractions so you can recharge.  Even a daily 30-minute break can make a big difference.
  8. Remember the True Meaning of the Holiday
    If you’re like me, you no doubt have a detailed gift list and a long list of holiday to-dos that you want to conquer this holiday season. But try and keep in mind that being with family, if you are religious attending church or synagogue services, and spending time with cherished friends is much more important than checking off a holiday detail that no one will even remember the following week.
  9. Create New Traditions
    Consider saying goodbye to the “have-tos” and “should-dos” and replace with new “love-tos” or “always-wanted-tos.” There is no rule that you must always celebrate the holidays like your parents did. Let go of the guilt and consider eliminating holiday traditions that no longer fill your family with joy.
  10. Count Your Blessings
    If you’re feeling a bit down this holiday season, count your blessings and consider giving to others. Nothing helps you feel the holiday spirit more than giving to others less fortunate.

The best gift any mom can give her children is to focus on giving them their presence rather than the perfect present. On that note, I gladly wish all of you a very happy holiday season and joyful new year.

Want more holiday help? Don't miss my 10 Organizational Tips to Increase Your Holiday Joy blog.


About Kristin MacLaughlin

Mom of three, fosters rescued dogs, and is helping to drive the conversation about digital parenting as VP of Consumer Marketing for Zift.

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