Tips for Reducing Stress from Your Holiday Celebrations

Tips for Reducing Stress during the Holidays

Holiday celebrations are an opportunity to get together and celebrate the season with family and friends, but they’re also a source of stress, especially if you are trying to maintain your sobriety. Between conflicts among guests to the stress of planning celebrations or deciding which events to attend when your schedule is double-booked, there are many ways the holidays can make us feel more frazzled than festive. It can be tempting to reach for a drink or another substance to calm the nerves. Instead of stressing out over what should be a fun, memorable event, use these tips to nix the stress from your holiday celebrations and help avoid familiar temptations.


Keep a Family Calendar Visible for Planning Activities and Events

When multiple family members are making plans and commitments, it’s easy for families to find themselves double-booked. Trying to decide between two important events only causes frustration and stress. Post a big calendar on the fridge or somewhere visible for family members to add events as they’re planned, avoiding the likelihood of double-booking and allowing everyone to stay up-to-date on what’s happening and when.


Set Boundaries and Limits with Troublesome Family Members

Some family members have a tendency to create conflict or present other problems when they visit. To avoid the stress such situations can cause, set boundaries. For example, if cousins get into trouble when they stay in the same home, set your brother’s or sister’s family up in a local hotel and make plans to meet and spend time together outside of the home to avoid headaches and hassles.


Embrace the Power of the To-Do ListTips for Reducing Stress during the Holidays

Start planning for holiday celebrations early and make a list of everything that must be done to prepare as far in advance as possible. Order the tasks on your list by priority, taking care of the most important tasks that can be completed in advance first and then tackling items that can’t be done early or are less important. Don’t be afraid to get some outside help if needed.  By prioritizing your pre-party tasks, you can avoid common party planning mistakes like waiting too long to send invitations. By crossing off major obligations well in advance, you’ll save yourself from the stress of having to rush to get things done at the last minute.


Aim for Smaller Gatherings Instead of One Big Blowout Celebration

This isn’t feasible or even desirable for everyone, but if you find that large celebrations tend to stress you (or your children) out more than smaller, more manageable events, consider focusing on getting together with smaller groups of family and friends instead of trying to coordinate the holiday celebration of all holiday celebrations. Sometimes, more intimate gatherings allow you to spend more quality time with the ones dearest to you anyway.


Holiday celebrations should be fun, not stressful, even when you’re sober.  By adopting an attitude of gratitude and planning ahead, you can avoid stress on both your mind and your bank account while still participating in many joyous celebrations this holiday season.




About the author: Jennifer Scott has experienced anxiety and depression since she was a teenager. She now shares stories about the ups and downs of her anxiety and depression at


©2016 Jennifer Scott

Image by Jill111 via Pixabay

Sharon Martin, a licensed counselor and psychotherapist in Northern California, specializes in helping adult children of alcoholics and others who struggle with anxiety, perfectionism, and self-criticism. She has a private psychotherapy practice in CA where she is available for online counseling. Sharon is also the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism and write the blog Conquering Codependency for Psychology Today.

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