8 Tips to Manage Holiday Stress for Parents


ways to limit your stress at Christmas

As magical as the holidays are, they come with an unfair amount of holiday stress, especially for parents. We want to make exciting memories with our kids. We want to make  all the magic happen.

But the holidays don’t happen in a bubble. We still have to do all the things in addition to creating all the magic. There’s still school, homework, work, sports, activities, meal planning, and so on. But, with the right mindset, it is possible to manage holiday stress so you can enjoy your time during this busy but exciting season. Keep reading to learn eight tips to manage holiday stress for parents.

Change Your Mindset

The very first thing you need to do is get your mindset right. If you go into the holiday season frazzled, you’re going to experience more stress.

I know it sounds cliché, but the more you can approach your holidays from a place of positivity-the better. By cultivating positive feelings and seeing the good in everything that happens during this time of year – even when things don’t go exactly as planned or expected-you can manage stress much easier than someone who doesn’t have their mindset set towards happiness.

Make a Plan and Prioritize

Before the holidays begin, make a list of everything you must do to prepare for the season. From there, prioritize your most important tasks and tackle them first. Next, create an action plan and outline what you need to do – even if it’s only 5 minutes at a time. You might even consider breaking your most important tasks into several smaller steps. By breaking them down, you can work on one step at a time and regain some control over the holidays.

The key here is PRIORITIZE. What are the most important things for you and your family?

managing holiday stress

Focus on Self-Care

Self-care is quite the buzzword and for a good reason. Let’s face it; nothing has been easy these days. But you know the saying, you can’t pour from an empty cup. So how can you pour love and affection into others during the holidays if you’re overwhelmed, stressed and depleted of energy?

When you fill your cup with self-care, you have so much more to give to others. Make taking time for yourself a priority. It doesn’t have to be elaborate (or it can be). There are a million and one ways to give yourself some self care. Find some ways that resonate with you and make them a priority. It’s not selfish and you will set a good example for your family.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

If you’re a parent, you’re already a superhero. There’s no need to go above and beyond here. Try not to set unrealistic expectations and ask for help when you need it. Trying to do too much and all by yourself is a recipe for disaster and unnecessary stress.

We’re all in this together, right? You help others when they need a hand, don’t deny them the chance to reciprocate. We all feel better when we are giving and receiving help and support.

Stay Connected to Your Tribe

Try not to get lost in the busyness and forget the reason for the season. Don’t feel like you have to be a social butterfly, but do stay connected to those who mean the most to you.

Be intentional about spending time with people who bring you joy. It’s hard to be stressed when you’re surrounded by and truly connecting with those you care about.

ways to relax during the holidays

Set Realistic Expectations

The holidays can be an absolute nightmare for parents if their children are causing them stress. Help your child set expectations about what will happen during the holiday season is to prepare them, so they don’t cause you extra stress.

Set appropriate limits beforehand to help you both deal with the schedule, responsibilities and any unexpected changes.

The key here is to get ahead on all fronts. Be prepared but not rigid. Have a plan, but be flexible.

Limit Junk Food Consumption (For You and Your Kids)

I know I probably just lost you on that one. The holidays are for indulging, right?

Processed foods and chemical ingredients put an extreme amount of stress on your body. When your body has to go into overtime to detoxify from the chemicals in your food, it doesn’t have the reserve to manage mental and emotional stress.

When your kids are hyped up on sugar, food dyes and chemical additives, their behavior is, no doubt, going to stress you out.

You don’t have to be an extremist. You and your kids can indulge a little without going overboard. You can balance out indulgences with fresh, clean, and healthy foods.

Exercise to Manage Holiday Stress

You’re probably thinking, how in the heck will I find time to exercise during the holidays?!!

I hear you and I get it. But I challenge you to reframe your mindset around this one. Try not to think of it as exercise or one more thing you have to do.

Try to incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine. Find enjoyable ways. For example, having a snowball fight with your kids is probably more fun than dragging yourself to the gym when it’s cold, wet and dark (at 5 pm) outside.

Physical activity is an excellent outlet for stress. Find ways to be more active to help alleviate unavoidable stress.

Stress has a huge impact on your immune system. Aside from the fact nobody wants to be sick during the holidays; we are living in a pandemic. Now is not the time to weaken your immune system. Start preparing now to manage your holiday stress. And do your part to help alleviate stress for someone else. The holidays can be very difficult times for many of our friends and family. Let’s all help each other manage our holiday stress!

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Shellie is an Occupational Therapist and Lactation Counselor turned Health Coach. She grew up in Youngstown and moved to Columbus to attend The Ohio State University. Columbus has been her home for the past 25+ years. She has 3 jobs, 1 husband, 3 kids, and 1 fur baby. When she’s not momming or working, she is researching all things related to nutrition and natural health. For that matter, she has an unhealthy relationship with her iPad and is not setting the best example for her kids. Her passion is to help busy moms transform their lifestyles so they can raise strong, healthy and happy families. She blogs about nutrition and natural health at Shelli Bolyard.