Holiday Stress Series: How to Avoid Overcommitting and Actually Enjoy the Season

Family spending time together with joy over the holidays

This post is the third in a three-part series offered to support parents with the most common stressors we’re hearing as we enter the 2023 holiday season. You can access the other posts in this series here: 10 Ways to Save Money on Gifts This Holiday Season and Navigating Family Drama During the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

The winter holiday season is marketed as a time of warmth, joy, and cozy moments spent with loved ones. But for many parents, it often translates to a juggling act of commitments, endless to-do lists, and an overwhelming sense of trying to make everything perfect. Amidst the cheer, there's an unspoken pressure to create magical moments while balancing the realities of everyday life. If you're a parent feeling the strain, you're not alone. It can be a challenge to feel a sense of control and balance during the holidays. Here is a 4-step process to try this year to help navigate the holiday season with a sense of balance and cultivate joy along the way.

1. Get Intentional

All too often, we enter the holiday season and simply hope for the best. It’s easy to succumb to the whirlwind of the season and just do our best to keep our head above water. And while the season can be overpowering, it doesn’t have to be that way. Take control this season by setting the tone and being intentional with the experiences you want to create. Ahead of the hustle and bustle, consider what balance and joy in this season would look and feel like to you. Perhaps joy would look like relaxing more than in years past and would feel less stressful. Or maybe joy would look like making more time to bake and be with the kids and feel more present and purposeful. Setting the tone for the holidays gives you clarity about what you want to create and gives you more of a sense of control over how you invest your time this season to achieve the vision.

2. Filter Your Time

The pressure of added responsibilities and unending party invitations and family gatherings is commonplace this time of year. Many of us try to do #allthethings and overcommit, making ourselves miserable in the process. Or, worse, we don’t even realize we’ve overcommitted until the holiday season comes to a close, at which point it all feels like a blur and we vow next year will be different.

The way to create more balance and joy during the hectic season is to filter your time through the tone or vision you set. Before accepting any invitations, taking on any additional projects, or committing to traditional activities, be sure to ask yourself whether the opportunity or task will contribute to a sense of balance and joy first. But don’t stop there. While one thing may be a “yes” on its own, it may be a “no” in context to all the other demands on your time.

3. Check In Often

The holiday season can be hectic. But the key to ensuring you stay in alignment with the balance and joy you seek is to evaluate your schedule and your emotions often. For example, looking at your upcoming schedule each Sunday ensures you know what’s ahead and gives you an opportunity to evaluate your commitments against your holiday vision. If the week feels overwhelming, consider adjustments to help you feel more balanced and in control. In addition to a weekly check-in, I recommend taking a baseline each evening before bed. Consider how you feel at the end of each day and assess if you’d make any changes in order to feel more balance or joy. Check-ins allow us to reevaluate and even change our mind (gasp!) about plans we’d set to ensure we are in alignment with our holiday goals.

4. Practice Gratitude

The final step in cultivating more balance and joy during the holiday season is to practice gratitude. In my humble opinion, you can never overdo gratitude. It’s literally the gift that keeps on giving. So go all in! Give thanks for all the things you appreciate first thing in the morning. Do it again at the end of the day during your check-in. You can even set an alarm on your phone to remind you to pause and practice gratitude during a quick lunchtime break. As Steve Maraboli said, “If you want to find happiness, find gratitude.”

The holiday season is notoriously frenetic for many parents. Don’t let this year be a repeat of years past if they, too, didn’t live up to your expectations. Do things differently this year. Get intentional, filter your time, check in with yourself often, and practice gratitude to ensure this year feels more balanced and joyful than ever before. I promise it’s possible to enjoy the holiday season on your terms. You just have to know what those terms are and decide to create boundaries and practices that honor them.

The Ultimate Holiday Guide: 2023 Edition is a free resource offering you some simple ideas to stress less this season. Inside you’ll find a gift-giving tracker, coupon templates, activities to keep the kiddos entertained, meal/party planning ideas, and even some tips to tend to your own well-being this season. It’s our gift to you! And if you’d prefer personalized support this holiday season, consider booking a complimentary 1:1 coaching consultation here to learn how coaching can help!

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Tina Unrue

Tina Unrue

Hi! My name is Tina. I help moms prioritize themselves so that they can prevent burnout and truly connect with themselves and the people and things that matter most.