December can be a stressful month for so many of us. It is easy to end up over-scheduled, overcommitted and stretched thin. Pressure from  extended family can lead to strained interactions. Our own expectations  of ourselves can case us to take on too much.  Commercialism and consumerism can lead to overspending and financial stress.  Holiday anxiety and depression is real.

Here are 5 tips to help you survive the holiday season with grace. 

1) Know Thyself:

It is important to know what does and does not work for your nature and temperament. Are you more introverted or extraverted? Highly sensitive or non-sensitive? High, medium or low in sensation seeking? (see below for more resources and self-tests). 

If you are more introverted you will  find large gatherings and small talk draining. Extraverts find parties and socializing with larger group energizing.

Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) also tend to need more downtime between events. Without the time to recharge HSPs become more prone to feeling overwhelmed. 

Sensation seeking is the degree to which you enjoy new, challenging. If you are high in sensation seeking you will enjoy adrenaline producing events.  If you are lower on the scale you will want to be mindful of balancing routine with new challenges. 

The better you understand yourself the easier it will be to know what schedule and events work best for you. Also consider the unique traits and temperament your children, partner and family. Makes plans taking everyone’s unique strengths into account. 

2) Be Intentional about Traditions: 

What traditions have the most meaning and importance for you and your family?Get clear on what traditions and rituals are most meaningful for you and your family. Make these your top priority. Ask yourself if there is anything you commit to because you feel like it is what ‘you should be doing’, ‘that’s what everyone else is doing’ or ‘what was always done’. If it is not important to your or your family let it go. Focus on what is most important and meaningful. 

3) Focus on Presence over Presents:  

We live in a consumer driven culture. The pressure to over spend and show love thought material means can be at an all-time high over the holidays. 

Gifts are only one of the 5 love languages (for more information the resource section below). Even then it is actually about the thought and intention that goes into the gifts, not the dollar amount. Be intentional about budgeting and gifts.Create a budget and stick to it. Instead of gifts for everyone there are other options.

The 5 Love Languages also includes words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch and acts of service. You can make a gift, plan a special outing together, stay in and cuddle, do something for a loved one, write a love note. Being present with our loved ones and children is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. 

4) Aim for Quality Time Together over Quantity:

When spending time with extended family aim for quality time over quantity. Reflect on past years, when is the point when you usually hit your expiration date in terms of time together?Aim to book your vacation time within this window. You can also build in breaks, such as sleeping in, taking a quick day trip or retreating to your room for some alone time. Then you can focus on enjoying the time you do have together and leave on a positive note. 

5) Practice JOMO: Give Yourself Permission to Take downtime 

For those prone to FOMO (the fear of missing out) consider the benefits of JOMO (the joy of missing out). Turn off your phone and social media, stop comparing yourself ‘what everyone else is doing’. And learn to check in with yourself. Really check in. 

Do you actually want to go to that Christmas party or would you rather stay at home in your pjs watching movies? Give yourself permission to stay in. 

(Your get-out-of-it-free cards are in the resource section below). 


These 5 Tips can go a long way in preserving our sanity during the stress of the holidays.  At the end of the day we are in control of our own schedules. Craft a holiday schedule and rituals that work best for you and your family. With a few tweaks the holidays can become enjoyable (or even something to look forward to).

Wishing you and your family and peaceful and joyful Holiday Season.


Additional Resources:


Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) Self Test

Highly Sensitive Child Self-Test

Sensation Seeking Self-Test

Love Languages 

Just for Fun: “Get-out-of-it-Free Passes” : Your JOMO Permission Slips