‘Stress-mas’: The Stressors of Christmas

Christmas can be a very stressful time for some people for a variety of reasons. Maybe you are finding this year difficult or had a difficult holiday experience previously, this can make you worried and stressed for the coming Christmas.

On the other hand, you might enjoy Christmas but just find small aspects of the holidays stressful like socialising or financial pressure. The impacts of COVID can also lead to increased stress.

Within this article, we are going to cover the holiday stressors and management of:

  • Preoccupying children during school holidays
  • Work deadlines & financial stressors
  • Increased socialising

School Holidays

Parents can find the holidays particularly stressful once school has finished for the year. They can find it difficult to balance preoccupying their children with the financial pressures of Christmas shopping, the social demands of celebratory events and finishing their own work.

Family sitting in the living room with a Christmas tree

Holidays bring disruption to young children’s routine so it’s important to try and maintain some normality. With older children, it’s a good idea to have activities planned for them to do and look forward to. These can be activities like a movie day, arts and crafts, shopping or going to the park with friends.

Some ways to achieve this include:
  • Plan your day to keep your child’s routine if they need it and have an idea of activities for older children.
  • Shop what you can online
  • Ask for people to help you
  • Set boundaries for yourself
  • Allocate time for your own self-care

Work Deadlines and Financial Stressors

Finishing work in preparation for the Christmas holidays can put more pressure on employees to meet their deadlines and create excess work-related stress. People might work longer hours to get all their work tasks done before Christmas break. Some people such as retail workers are preparing themselves for extended hours and busier days.

Person wrapping a Christmas gift

Additionally, people might exert themselves at work and increase their work hours to earn enough money to meet the financial pressures of the holiday. This can also inevitably lead to burnout.

This excess pressure can have significant impacts on an individual’s mental health during this time of year.


In the aftermath of COVID-19, there can be added pressure to see the people you have been missing for the past few years. This added pressure can cause you to feel overwhelmed, especially after restrictions. People usually begin to organise lunches, dinners, parties and events which can be overwhelming.

To assist with the issues of socialising you can:
  1. Put your health first – Don’t interact with people you aren’t comfortable with. You don’t have to go where you don’t feel safe.
  2. Know your pace – Don’t feel pressured by others making plans that you have to show up to them all. You don’t want to burn yourself out, start slow and reintroduce yourself to socialising.
  3. Try new things – Try to split Christmas across a few days for different groups to come together in smaller numbers if that could ease your concerns. You can even try an outdoor celebration.

How to Manage These Stressors

It is important to understand that feeling anxious, nervous, or overwhelmed during the Christmas season is common. It’s crucial to know how to manage these stressors to fully enjoy your time with family and friends.

  • Understanding that Christmas stress is common
  • Don’t set unrealistic goals or standards for Christmas day and events, this can help reduce self-inflicted pressure.
  • Talk to a professional or your doctor if you are struggling or feeling down
  • Try and maintain your routine as much as possible with exercise and self-care.
  • Plan in advance to help prepare yourself for changes and get yourself organised and ready.
  • Know your limits for social interactions, expectations and for what you are comfortable with doing
  • Talk to your family about limiting Christmas a bit if you need to ease the financial pressure. You don’t have to try and keep up; they will understand and try to work something out for everyone.

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