Do these 6 holiday stress hurdles sound familiar? Here's how you can avoid them.

Many people say the holidays are the happiest time of year. (And they should be!) But for others, the season is also the most stressful time of the year.

Whether you’re dealing with family, time, or money issues — or all three — it can get very overwhelming very quickly.

Luckily, Hallmark has some simple, effective tips on how to spread smiles, not stress, over the holidays. Check out some of their suggestions to show you #CareEnough this time of year:


Holidays have you stressed? Here are some helpful tips on caring for yourself and others. #CareEnough

Posted by Upworthy on Saturday, December 17, 2016

Where does all that holiday stress come from in the first place? And what exactly can we do about it?

Sometimes, a little outside perspective is just what the doctor ordered. We enlisted the help of Dr. Sharon Kelly, a clinical psychologist, and Dena Patton, a certified life and business coach, to break down what causes holiday stress, what we can do to manage it, and how to keep the spirit of the season strong.

Here are six different hurdles that many people find themselves facing:

1. Feuding with the family.

Where it comes from: “I think most people that I see, there’s some family triggers, family history, family dynamics, interpersonal conflicts. That creates a lot of anxiety for people,” says Kelly. There's no doubt that our disagreements and attitudes towards family can get in the way of the celebration. And the more we hold on to them, the more we allow them to reach a boiling point.

What you can do: It all starts with you. “Choose to bring joy, not stress, to the party,” Patton writes in an email.

“The opportunity is in your hands,” adds Kelly. “You change the meaning that you attach to [the holidays], you change your response to it, you change your intention for the day. If you know that a certain person is going to really get under your skin, how do you go into that situation?”

2. Money, money, money! (For gifts, gifts, gifts.)

Where it comes from: “There’s all this anxiety around what to get people,” says Kelly. “Is this the right gift? Are they going to like this? Is this going to show how I feel about them?" When that stress hits, some people think an expensive gift will do the trick. Kelly adds, "They actually spend more even if it’s not something that you want.”

What you can do: “Have a budget and stick to it,” writes Patton. “Do not go into debt out of feeling obligated.” When it comes down to it, simply being prepared and knowing ahead of time how you’re going to plan your attack will ease all your emotions.

3. Holiday party obligations piling up.

Where it comes from: First off, there can be too many parties this time of year. And second, many times, these parties become more about impressing others and less about the actual gathering. “I know people that have these big, beautiful parties because they’re really good at it,” says Kelly. “But it’s, like, way over the top, and they have all this anxiety, no one appreciates it.”

What you can do: If throwing or going to a big party brings you joy, go for it! Just remember to do it for the right reason. “Pick your battles here,” writes Patton. “Practice your boundaries and don't say yes to every party. Make this year the [one] you are doing things that really bring you joy and cut out the things that bring you stress.”

4. HUGE crowds and looooong lines.

Where it comes from: The stress that long lines bring boils down to one simple idea: waiting until the last minute. Holiday crowds and shopping are a totally different animal, and remembering that will save you so much time in the long run.

What you can do: “Shop online or go shopping in off peak hours when crowds aren't present,” writes Patton. “Planning ahead in this area really helps.” Plus, the beauty of the modern world is that we can do all the holiday shopping we need without ever leaving the house.

5. All that food around you!

Where it comes from: If you’re cooking the food, it’s pretty easy to see how all the stress can creep in. As the number of diners rises, so does the pressure to get things right. If you’re just eating, though, try not to overdo it. All that indulgence and excess may come back to stress you out later on.

What you can do: “Have a plan and work the plan!” writes Patton. “If the plan is to indulge, then go for it, but if you promised yourself not to gain 10 pounds then never go to a party hungry.”

6. More-than-full to-do lists.

Where it comes from: “The bottom line is that we are busy — actually we are over-scheduled!” writes Patton. “We pile on more things to our schedule, our money and our emotional state and we go into overload.”

What you can do: If you're feeling overwhelmed, Kelly has a simple suggestion. "I would have them just step back in a quiet moment on their own," she says. "Really think about if they were really happy and [if] they really were going to enjoy the season ... how would they design it? What choices would they make?"

Whichever combination of hurdles apply to you, address the stress by taking a breath, planning ahead, and really thinking about what the holiday spirit means for you.

Ultimately, if we understand what brings us joy and make a conscious effort to really pay attention to that, then good things will follow. In fact, take a breather once in a while if you need to. If there's one S-word that should describe the holidays. It's special — not stress.

"Remember that this season isn't about gifts, stress, or social media," notes Patton. "It's about faith, family and making memories. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the busy-ness that we forget what really matters."

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