10 Smart Ways to Beat Holiday Stress

Do you find yourself overwhelmed by holiday stress at the end of the year?

Would you like to turn things around and make the experience as pleasant and as stress-free as possible?

From gift shopping, to meal preparation, to wrapping up work and school, to spend time with loved ones, holiday stress is most certainly real.

While the holidays aren’t going away anytime soon, the good news is that you can take steps to help alleviate and minimize stressful situations.

All you need are a few quiet moments to yourself to review your calendar and to-do list, make a plan, and take smart action.

And in case you were wondering, it’s never too late to beat holiday stress.

The most important thing is that you identify and address the problem.

In this post, I offer ten smart ways you can beat holiday stress.

These tips will help you stay cool, calm, and collected throughout the busy season.


Review your calendar.

Sure, your calendar may be a bit busier than usual, but that’s no reason to put your calendar reviews on hold.

In fact, knowing what your calendar will be like over the next several weeks can help you better plan for and even possibly prevent scheduling headaches.

What’s going on in your schedule over the next few weeks?

Open up your calendar, if need be, and review all your calendar entries with eyes wide-open:

Were you invited to any parties, plays, performances, gatherings, events, functions, meetings, or fundraisers?

Do you have extensive travel plans or a chunk of vacation time coming up?

Do you need time to finish up a project at work or prepare for last-minute school assignment?

Get in the habit of reviewing your calendar on at least a daily basis during the season. This way, you’ll have a solid grasp as to what’s coming down the pike and can prepare for activities and events in advance.

You’ll also be able to correct any scheduling hiccups like double-bookings, over-bookings, missed entries, and the like.

Balance your workload.

The holiday season often means days or weeks’ worth of vacation time. If you’re planning on taking time off over the next few weeks, you’ll definitely want to make a point of properly managing your workload so that you’re not sitting in the office or working at the very last hour before the holidays.

Take a moment to prioritize your projects and assignments. Which tasks absolutely must be completed before you leave for vacation or the end of the year? If you need help figuring out what’s a priority when it comes to your workload, try using a tool like the Eisenhower Box.

Once you’ve identified your most urgent and important tasks, ask yourself, “What are some ways I can begin work or completed these items, sooner, rather than later?” Can you reschedule non-urgent tasks for January, delegate time-sensitive tasks, or ask for support or help to get the job done?

Shop early for gifts.

Avoid waiting until the very last-minute to purchase holiday gifts. If possible, try to do your shopping in September, October, or November, or shop for gifts throughout the year for a less-frenzied shopping experience.

If you find yourself shopping for gifts in December, do all that you can in your power to shop smart.

Place online orders early and as soon as possible to ensure prompt delivery. If you’re shopping at physical stores, do your best to shop early in the day so you can avoid long lines at checkout, traffic, and of course, those parking headaches.

Even if you only cross a handful of gifts off of your list early in the month, it’s better than having to shop for all of your gifts later on.

Consolidate shopping trips.

Do you find yourself sporadically shopping for holiday gifts, picking up a sweater here, a book there, and a tablet in between? That time can quickly add up in your schedule between battling holiday crowds and traffic. Do your best to consolidate your shopping excursions be it at brick-and-mortar stores or online.

You may find it helpful to create a list of gifts, recipients, as well as the stores or shops you’ll visit. You can visit a single shopping center or visiting several targeted shopping areas on the same day. If you’re shopping for gifts online, consider setting aside a few hours for your shopping sessions and to place your orders.

Accept invitations with care.

Here’s a friendly and practical invitation reminder for you: you don’t have to accept every holiday invitation you receive. Yes, it was nice an invitation was extended to you, but you do have the right to politely decline your attendance to that holiday party or seasonal gathering.

Be extra choosy when accepting invitations during the holiday season. Consider both your schedule and your energy levels. Above all, don’t be afraid to decline invitations.

Confirm RSVPs as soon as possible.

You’ve just received an invitation to a virtual holiday party. What should you do? You should a decide whether or not you’ll attend a function within a day or two of receiving your invite. The sooner you make up your mind, the sooner you’ll have one less thing to worry about.

Of course, there may be instances when you need to check your schedule or confirm an existing appointment, but do your best. If you decide to attend a party or event, send in your RSVP as soon as possible, and be sure to enter the event into your calendar or schedule.

Set a budget of monthly volunteering hours.

Helping people in need can be a satisfying and rewarding experience. You shouldn’t, however, feel run-down, bleary-eyed, and stressed-out during the process! You’ve also got to take care of yourself and your needs.

To prevent stretching yourself thin during the holiday season, budget a specific number of volunteer hours for each week or month. Yes, this may seem a tad restrictive, but you will feel better knowing you’ve set aside time to help others and to take care of yourself.

Schedule weekly personal time.

It’s extremely important to take personal time for yourself during the holiday season. You need time to rest and relax between all those parties, events, and functions to gather your thoughts, rest your body, and recharge your spirit.

Pull out your calendar and schedule several weekly breaks or date-nights with yourself. You can fill these breaks with whatever activities you’d like: catching up on some reading, spending time with a loved one, enjoying a cat nap or two, savoring a hot bath in the tub, or doing absolutely nothing.

Consider paying for a small service.

When you’re short on time and energy, consider swapping your stress and headaches for a few bucks. Having someone else take care of a small chore or task means one less thing on your to-do list….and you guessed it, a little less stress in your life.

Can’t stand wrapping gifts? Have gifts wrapped at a local gift wrapping drive. Have no time to clean up your yard? Hire a local teenager to sweep up leaves, pick up tree branches, and shovel your sidewalk and driveway.

At your wits’ end when it comes to cooking for a crowd? Order catering from a local restaurant or pick-up ready-made and prepared foods from a local supermarket or shop.

Cut yourself a break.

While there may be certain financial and legal items that require your immediate attention at the end of the year, such as completing paperwork, preparing tax documents and the like, you don’t have to get everything done by December 31st. The end of a calendar year does not mean you have to squeeze activities into it! There will be plenty of time to take care of things in future.

Were you unable to meet up with a friend for coffee in December? Schedule a coffee break for mid-January. Didn’t finish that writing project like you said you would? Complete it the following month. Couldn’t make it to all of those holiday parties? Make a point to connect with folks via phone, email, or video chat in January or February.

How about you? How do you beat holiday stress? Which of these tips are you going to try out for a calm, cool, and collected holiday season? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

Do you want help better managing your time and energy? I offer time management coaching and organizing mindset coaching. Click here to learn more.

Want to better manage your time? The Order Expert’s Guide to Time Management, is a hands-on workbook that provides practical solutions to common, everyday time management problems. Click here to learn more.

Follow Rashelle:
Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.