How to have a stress-free festive season

Create a stress-free December filled with love, joy and cherished moments. Picture: Pexels/Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush

Create a stress-free December filled with love, joy and cherished moments. Picture: Pexels/Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush

Published Dec 6, 2023


The holiday season is upon us and while it’s a time of joy and celebration, it can also bring its fair share of stress with all the gift shopping, parties and family obligations

A survey by the American Psychological Association found that 38% of people felt their stress levels increased during the holiday season. Stress can lead to an increased risk of illness, substance misuse and higher rates of anxiety and depression.

Fear not, though. We have some simple tips to help you navigate the holiday hustle and make the month stress-free.

Plan ahead

The key to a relaxed December is proper planning. Start by making a to-do list of all the tasks you need to accomplish.

Break them down into smaller, manageable tasks and allocate specific days or time slots to tackle them.

That way, you’ll avoid last-minute panic and have a clear roadmap to follow.

Set realistic expectations

Remember, you don’t have to do it all. It’s okay to say no to certain invitations or delegate tasks to others.

Be realistic about what you can handle and focus on what matters to you.

Prioritise activities that bring you joy and let go of unnecessary obligations that add to your stress.

Simplify gift-giving

Gift-giving is a wonderful tradition but it can also become overwhelming. Consider setting a budget and sticking to it.

Instead of buying individual gifts for everyone, suggest a Secret Santa or a gift exchange game to make it more fun and budget-friendly.

You can also explore home-made gift options or experiences that create lasting memories.

Practice self-care

Amid the holiday chaos, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Make time for activities that help you relax and recharge.

Although “Dezemba” in Mzansi is synonymous with going all out, take time to recharge, whether by reading a book, taking a bubble bath or going for a walk in nature.

Prioritise self-care to keep your stress levels in check. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

Embrace imperfection

Perfection is overrated, especially during the holidays. Embrace imperfections and let go of the need for everything to be flawless. The burnt cookies or the slightly lopsided Christmas tree won’t ruin the festivities.

Focus on the joy and connection the holiday season brings, rather than striving for perfection.

Connect with loved ones

The holidays are about spending quality time with loved ones. Instead of getting caught up in materialistic aspects, meaningful interactions take centre stage.

When the holidays come around, they bring a variety of events, social interactions and challenges.

Sometimes the resulting stress has to do with the pressure of how many responsibilities someone has. In other cases, it can be tied to complicated memories of the past or anxiety about family gatherings.

Schedule gatherings or virtual hangouts with family and friends, play games, share stories and create cherished memories together. It’s the people who make the season special, not the things.

Practice gratitude

Amid the chaos, take a moment each day to reflect on what you're grateful for. Gratitude has a way of shifting our focus from stress to appreciation.

Write down three things you’re thankful for, whether it’s a loving family, good health or a cosy home. Cultivating gratitude can bring a sense of peace and joy during the holiday season.

This December, let's make a conscious effort to embrace simplicity, prioritise self-care, and focus on what matters.

By planning ahead, setting realistic expectations and practising gratitude, we can navigate the holiday hustle with ease and create a stress-free December filled with love, joy and cherished moments.

Happy Holidays!